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‘Sizwe Bansi is Dead’ revisited

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After staying out of the stage for some time, seasoned actors Misheck Mzumara and Thlupego Chisiza are out with an award winning play Sizwe Bansi is Dead.

The play will open Madsoc Theatre in Lilongwe’s season on Saturday night.

Mzumara and Chisiza have staged Sizwe Bansi is Dead several times but the duo said on Wednesday that the play has only been performed twice in Lilongwe.

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“Yes it’s true that we have shown this play many times, especially in Blantyre, but we are showing it after being asked to do so by Madsoc,” Mzumara said.

The Mzuzu University drama lecturer said Madsoc has grown in terms of numbers and that it was important that they show this award-winning play once again.

“There has also been growing interest among patrons, who have missed our previous performances to have the play done again. We are also excited to be back on stage, having been out for some time,” Mzumara said.

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Madsoc Theatre Director, Stanley Mambo, said they were happy to start the season with Sizwe Bansi is Dead.

“This is a good play which is in English and its style will be complimented by the intimacy of Madsoc Theatre. So, people’s support will help keep theatre alive,” Mambo said.

He said Mwezi Arts took over the running of Madsoc Theatre in 2013 and that they have had a huge groundwork to do.

Sizwe Banzi Is Dead is a play by South African playwright Athol Fugard, written collaboratively with two South African actors, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, both of whom appeared in the original production.

Sizwe Bansi Is Dead can be traced to Fugard’s experiences as a law clerk at the Native Commissioner’s Court in Johannesburg.

At that time it was mandatory that every black and coloured citizen over the age of 16 years should carry an identity book that restricted employment and travel within the country.

In court, Fugard saw the repercussions of this law; blacks were sent to jail at an alarming rate.

Although these restrictions are specifically South African, critics have noted that the play’s greater theme of identity is universal.

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