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Young Travellers Theatre premieres ‘Bakili’s Wit’

HISTORICAL—An actor, who plays Muluzi, speaks in one of the scenes

Young Travellers Theatre on Saturday afternoon premiered a play titled Bakili’s Wit, depicting the life and times of the country’s former president Bakili Muluzi at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre.

Young Travellers Theatre adapted the play from a book titled Living Playscripts written by renowned dramatist Smith Likongwe, which has Bakili’s Wit, The Tragedy of Bingu and Amai’s Turn.

The premiere attracted a good turnout which included Likongwe and his family as well as other players in the creative industry.

The performance was also part of the first performance of the build-up shows for the Easter Theatre Festival to be held at the same venue from April 3-5 2020.

The fact that the youthful group adapted the play and decided to stage it, is something commendable and they reminded the audience of Muluzi popularly known as ‘Atcheya’.

The play, however, has weaknesses and shortfalls that the team needs to polish before taking it on a tour. Among others, the team needs more rehearsals to tighten the production, the actors were not at par and again they need to do more research to enrich the play.

On top of that, they need to change some of the characters, who took various roles and they also could have done better on gathering enough in terms of the costume.

The almost one and a half hour play, written and directed by Imran Shan, ended with a scene where Muluzi hands over the mantle to the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

But people were left in suspense as they did not know that the play had come to an end with many still on their seats before Shaban took to the stage to thank them for patronising the production.

Some of the characters that make up the play include Muluzi as the main man, the late Chakufwa Chihana, former Vice President Justin Malewezi, the late Aleke Banda and former Vice President Cassim Chilumpha.

Likongwe said after the performance that he was delighted that the group was able to stage the play.

“I am happy that they attempted to do it because as writers, we write so that these works are brought to the people. Obviously I am also a director and so, if I was to direct it, I would do it differently but there would have been small differences,” he said.

With so many plays to his credit, Likongwe, who is also a drama lecturer at Chancellor College, said there was a lot of potential and that they should do a lot of performances to improve.

One of the people, who watched the production, who only identified herself as Khadija, said being one of the members of United Democratic Front (UDF) and admirer of the former president, she wanted to see how the theatre group would present Muluzi’s story.

“I am satisfied with what I saw but not 100 percent. There are areas they need to improve but they tackled more. Some characters were not perfect and for instance, on the former president I expected them to use someone who would have a strong voice like that of Muluzi,” Khadija said.

Shaban hailed people for their support.

“A production cannot be 100 percent, there will always be gaps but we will work on the shortfalls and feedback we have got as we have plans to tour with it in the country and outside. Through the play we wanted to show that we need to safeguard our history,” Shaban said.

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