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Umunthu Theatre promises more

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With the economy biting hard, several theatre groups are grounded and finding it hard to hold performances.

Some of the theatre groups have said unlike in the past when venues were cheaper, these days it is expensive to hire venues some of which charge more than K400,000.

But while others are grounded, some are making headway and one of them is International Alliance for Umunthu Theatre which on Saturday staged a play Woza Albert at Madsoc Theatre in Lilongwe.

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The theatre group which is made up of former University of Malawi – Chancellor College Travelling Theatre members has adapted Woza Albert, a political satire play, that imagines the second coming of Christ in apartheid-ridden South Africa.

While many of the University of Malawi – Chancellor College drama graduates have moved to other fields and focused much on theatre for development, the members of Umunthu have said they are here to stay.

“We received a very good audience on Saturday. The support people gave us has motivated us to bring out more, “said assistant director of Woza Albert, Vitumbiko Zgambo.

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He said during the show, they also had an opportunity to reach out to organisers.

“We managed to reach out to several organisers and some we have entered into discussions. We hope to take this play to different areas. We are here not just to make up numbers but we want to help uplift theatre,” he said.

He said they picked Woza Albert because of its unique presentation on the struggle of an ordinary man in apartheid ridden South Africa.

“It’s a challenging play and we believe people will appreciate and see the need why we adapted this piece. We also got this play to challenge ourselves because it is one of the best plays in South Africa,” Zgambo said.

Woza Albert is a play that opened at Johannesburg’s Market Theatre and toured in Europe and America as the most successful play to come out of South Africa, winning more than 20 prestigious awards worldwide.

Woza Albert (which means Rise Albert) was written by Mbongeni Ngema, and Barney Simon in 1981.

In 2002, it was performed in London by Siyabonga Twala and Errol Ndotho.

The two actors play roles of various black South Africans – a vendor, barber, servant, manual labourer, soldier – receiving the news that Christ (Morena) has arrived in South Africa, where a Calvinist white elite imposes apartheid.

The play has been directed by Kellie Chikoko and features Bright Chayachaya and Fletcher Chelewani.

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