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‘Theatre in the round can be exploited further’

Renowned playwright and drama lecturer, Smith Likongwe, has said drama groups in the country should utilise the theatre in the round.

Likongwe said this on Thursday after watching a play Fear Eats the Soul by Germany group Theater Konstanz, with Nanzikambe actor Mphundu Mjumira playing the lead role, at The Great Hall in Zomba.

Theater Konstanz used the theatre in the round style with everything happening on stage, including change of consumes.

This is moving away from the usual productions in the country where actors come on and off the stage in every scene and, in some moments, the stage is left dry with no action.

But it was a different story with Fear Eats the Soul where actors were active throughout, with some of them playing more roles, and the stage was always active.

“Theatre in the round is largely used for theatre for development in the country but its use by Theater Konstanz in Fear Eats the Soul has proved very effective. The actors were able to address everything,” Likongwe said.

Likongwe as drama lecturer at Chancellor College, used the play as part of a lesson for drama students with year-one students tasked with an assignment.

“This style could be used further than how we use it now it is a comfortable style as it does not demand a lot and shows a lot through its presentation and we can improve on it,” he said.

Mjumira said theatre is changing and that it was high time the theatre industry moved with time and became creative with its plays and not remain stagnant with old styles.

Likongwe described the performance of Fear Eats the Soul as marvelous.

“The play is very rich in its story and meaning. And, then, there is the interdependence of the cultures of blacks and whites and I like the fusion of German and Malawian cultures,” he said.

Likongwe heaped praise on Theater Konstanz.

“The way they were able to handle it was good and telling such a story is very difficult if they used a realistic type of setting but they used stylistic setting and were able to move quickly and change costumes,” Likongwe said.

He also said the use of choruses in the play was on point, which represented common characters.

“There are a lot of lessons to take, especially for drama students here, because the actors were professional in their activities and they employed various skills and were able to sing Malawian songs as well as dance”.

Likongwe also said Mjumira, who was starring as the lead actor did well and that his presence was felt.

Unlike at Blantyre Sports Club, where the audience closely followed the play and never made noise, let alone making movements, it was not the case with the audience at The Great Hall where some peole lacked discipline.

Fear Eats the Soul which in German is Angst Essen Seele Auf, is a 1974 German film written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

The film won two awards at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival and was thus adapted for the stage and directed by Johanna Schall at Theater Konstanz.

The play revolves around an unlikely relationship which develops between an elderly woman and a Malawian migrant.

It tells the story of Mphundu, played by Mphundu Mjumira and Emmi Kurowski, who meet for the first time in a pub in Germany – both trying to drown their sorrows differently.

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