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One man act was a challenge— Misheck Mzumara

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It has been rare in the country watching one-man productions as many groups prefer big-cast productions.

But the trend seems to be changing now as one-man acts are slowly coming to effect.

Actor Mbene Mbunga Mwambene, who is currently outside the country, has toured several places with the one-man play Story of a Tiger.

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It was a challenge for him but in all his performances, he has managed to conquer the audience.

Actor Misheck Mzumara, who is a drama lecturer at Mzuzu University, took up the same challenge on Friday when he staged a one-man act Tales of A Migrant at HS Winehouse in Blantyre.

Mzumara, who has starred in several big-cast productions and recently acted in a two-man act with Thlupego Chisiza in the play Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, said he did not know what to expect from the audience.

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“I should not lie to you, it was a challenge because I didn’t know what to expect simply because people in the country are used to big-cast productions. But midway through the production, people started enjoying the performance,” he said.

Mzumara said the audience has now started embracing one-man acts and he is sure that many theatre groups will look into this in terms of giving people different things.

“There is a need to give people a variety of plays,” he said.

Mzumara also heaped praise on HS Winehouse management for opening up to artists for free.

“These days, it is difficult to access venues but also it is expensive. HS Winehouse has opened up to us using the venue for free. As artists, this is an opportunity and we need to utilise it,” he said.

Some quarters, however, have bemoaned the tendency of drama groups in adapting plays from outside and not our own stories.

But Mzumara said there was nothing wrong with adaptations.

“These are plays that are already written and so you save time and it is cost, effective compared to doing fresh plays. Again, most of the adaptations we pick have stories related to Malawi,” he said.

He said he restaged the play having been reading in the media of many Malawians trekking outside in search greener pastures.

In the play, a man leaves Malawi for South African in search of greener pastures but xenophobic attacks nearly leave him for dead.

“The lesson is that it’s not always greener on the other side. There is something we can do better in our country,” said the actor.

The play written by Switzerland-based actor Thoko Kapiri was organised by Mzuzu University Theatre Arts Group (Mutag) in collaboration with Migrant Works.

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