St Andrews High School final-year students on Tuesday staged a play titled Into The Warm Heart, which promotes Blantyre City and Malawi to the world, at Jacaranda Cultural Centre.
The play, devised and written by final-year students as part of their drama exam assessment, stars an all-female cast in Virtue Nyasulu, Chiedza Marewedza, Namukoko Kabaghe and Thembi.
It is a simple play but the students showed their research skills, digging deeper into some of the things that make Blantyre and Malawi, from the staple food nsima made from maize flour to the popular Chambo fish found in Lake Malawi to the day-to-day experiences of locals.
The story envisions tourists who have come into the country from outside, fancy local food and get to interact with locals, learning languages and traditional dances.
This is a play which is part of the Blantyre City of Culture 2022 and, in it; the audience also gets to learn about Malawi’s adventures in soccer, with names like Gabadinho Mhango standing out.
The story, fused with dances and music, is told in a fascinating tactic attracting the attention of the audience dominated by creatives.
“Due to Covid, we could not perform it in different places but we are happy to have finally brought it to Jacaranda. It was good to get feedback in order to improve our stage presence,” Nyasulu said.
Kabaghe said it was was all about promoting Blantyre.
“We added more positive things to make people come to Blantyre and we had to be strategic to choose things that represent Blantyre not only to locals but also the world,” she said.
Chiedza said the performance has encouraged them to further pursue drama.
“We had to work on character development, research and storylines and we also had to make it more exciting,” she said.
The school’s drama teacher Kevin Troughton said they engaged creatives because they felt the theme and content of the performance was of particular interest to them.
He said the United Kingdom Exam Board sets a theme for assessed performances each year and that this year’s theme was ‘City of Culture’.
“The students have been asked to imagine that there will be a big cultural festival in their city and to create performances that could be presented at the festival.
So, our students have devised this piece to be part of their imaginary Blantyre City of Culture Festival, and we are hoping that it may lead to useful discussions on how we can further develop the profile of arts in Malawi,” Troughton said, adding that drama is one of the subjects they teach at the school from the beginning.
Contemporary dancer and actor Robert Magasa said he enjoyed the production and that he was happy to see women orchestrating everything.
“The theme they picked is good and it was an easy way to talk about Blantyre and how locals share information when tourists come and what tourists long for,” Magasa said.