By Sam Banda Jnr:
YDC Theatre, which made up of youthful actors, on Saturday afternoon invaded Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre with a play that tells the story of one of the country’s heroes Reverend John Chilembwe.
Written by Fumbani Phiri, the play focuses on Chilembwe’s uprising in 1915.
Phiri and team took interest in the play despite being young, saying they observed that not much has been done in terms of stage plays in telling the story of Chilembwe.
“If you look back, you will see we have not done enough in terms of having a story of Chilembwe on stage and mostly it’s been radio plays,” Phiri said.
He said, before scripting the play, members did a research that gave them a full course of Chilembwe’s story, hence bringing it to the stage.
Phiri and team decided to tell the story in a different way using a classroom setting where a teacher engages learners.
The actors and actresses were energetic during the performance which, unfortunately, attracted a poor audience.
The team, however, did not do enough in terms of showing the best of costume and some scenes need to be polished as there were some gray areas in terms of presentation of the story.
In some scenes, there were some exaggerations, which have to be discarded taking into consideration that this is a historical piece.
Being a serious production that has historical information, YDC also needs to rehearse massively for the actors to jell and be on the same level before bringing it back to the stage.
However, being a youthful theatre group, they have shown potential by revisiting some of the important stories for the nation.
A tribute to Chilembwe follows up on YDC’s previous production Walking Kamuzu.
“We received overwhelming support during Walking Kamuzu and people were happy with the way we told the story on stage. So we thought of working on John Chilembwe’s story. There is more to come and we will continue to bring out more productions to satisfy the audience,” Phiri said.
He said they were not worried with the turnout.
“Those who came gave us support and we are thankful to them. As young people we want to bridge the gap that is there between up and coming actors and playwrights and the veteran players. We need to work together and learn from each other,” Phiri said.
Next up for YDC is a performance at the National Schools Youth Arts Festival (Nasfest) this weekend in Lilongwe, where they will stage a play titled Wasted Adjective.
Solomonic Peacocks Director, McArthur Matukuta, said he was impressed with the group’s performance.
“I am impressed. I like the style they used. And picking such a story shows their determination to give out more. We need more actors and actresses to come out and take up our positions,” Matukuta said.
The play comes barely two weeks after the country remembered Chilembwe on January 15.
Filmmaker Shemu Joyah has also hinted on a Chilembwe movie but has not made progress due to funding.
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