Hifa set to explode

The Frog Queen, a major Hifa 2006 collaborative production, is a must-see comedy for audiences aged 16 years and above. It presents an outrageous look at family life in a way that will leave audiences gasping in horror and laughter. In this kitchen fairy tale or perhaps better termed, adult comedy, a mother of two children decides on her own future, on her own terms. A widowed woman manages in the most unexpected manner to escape the drudgery of her everyday life and bring new glamour to her existence. In this rib-wrecking play, relevant in Zimbabwe today, what seems normal becomes extraordinary. Lovers come and go, the next door neighbour farms rhinos, clients cross-dress and the children glue mum’s boyfriend to a chair. The Frog Queen has a multi-cultural Zimbabwean cast and the play has been adapted from its original German version to suit a Zimbabwean setting. Authored by Kerstin Specht, a renowned German Playwright who is well known for her dark and satirical comedies written in spare and poetical language, The Frog Queen has every ingredient for a masterpiece. The cast includes renowned names in Zimbabwean theatre such as Rory Kilalea, who has produced several plays and shows for many festivals, including Hifa and the Edinburgh Festival, Dereck Nziyakwi, nominated for an award at a theatre festival in Zambia last year and Jane Houston-Green. It also includes theatre student Rutendo Chigudu, Silvanos Mudzvova and Tafadzwa Muzondo who is making his first appearance. The comedy is a collaborative production presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, The Zimbabwe-German Society-Goethezentrum, Harare and La Reina Theatre, with the support of the University of Zimbabwe’s Theatre Arts Department. With a local team on and behind the stage, Frog Queen is an exciting project with a truly Zimbabwean-German intercultural input, and truly within the spirit of “hAND in hAND”. The Director is Gudula Mueller-Towe, herself an actor of repute. Enough said! Come and see for your self. Well known British play, Zoo Story, which premiered in 1960, is being adapted by the Masvingo Drama Circle in collaboration Karanga Arts Group and will be staged at this year’s edition of Hifa scheduled for the last week of April. Hifa theatre director and seasoned actor, Walter Mparutsa, fervently describes it as “a very interesting, classic, powerful two-man play.” Two men, Peter and Jerry, meet in the park and start up on a conversation, with the bullish Jerry ranting and raving on his recent visit to the zoo. Instead of elaborating upon the facts of his tale to an eagerly anticipatory Peter, he deliberately sidetracks himself to talk about other things. The ‘zoo story’ becomes a flame that sparks off a more serious discussion on issues such as human relationships, sexuality, marriage, love and as the plot unfolds, one learns so much about the complexities of life from the little trivial exchanges the two characters have. The moral of the play, according to Jerry, is “something to do with how sometimes its necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” What it therefore seems is that all life is a zoo. In the dictionary sense, a zoo is a place where animals are domesticated and displayed for human pleasure, but in this context, a zoo becomes a rather more general metaphor for life that is characterised by noise and unruly behaviour as reflected by the two characters, Peter and Jerry. Commenting on the adaptations of foreign plays by local producers and artists, Mparutsa said, “This year, our focus on theatre at Hifa is collaborations and foreign adaptations, facilitating cross-cultural exchanges between ourselves as Zimbabwean people and with the rest of the world. “We can only learn about other people and their ways of life through understanding their culture, and the best way we can do that is through theatre. And remember this a thematic fulfillment of the Hifa theme ‘ hAND in hAND.” The Zoo Story adaptation is being directed by Doug Hill and will be performed at the AON Zimbabwe Theatre with Gideon Masarira as Peter and Micah Zinduru as Jerry. The adaptation is based on the original script, The Zoo Story, by Edward Albee, who was propelled to fame with his “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in 1962. Zoo Story simultaneously premiered in New York and London in 1960. Hifa runs from 25 to 30 April at various venues in Harare. Another Raisedon Baya production, Tomorrow’s People, is scheduled for the Standard Theatre stage on African Banking Corporation Day, Tuesday April 25 and CABS Day, Wednesday April 26. Baya is an award-winning playwright and director-producer of brilliant theatre pieces that mostly delve into the contemporary issues of Zimbabwe. He has had several productions premiered at Hifa since 2000. Three prominent Bulawayo-based theatre companies ‘ Amakhosi Township Theatre, Bambelela Arts Ensemble and Qhube Productions ‘ are working hAND in hAND on this collective theatre fiesta. Tomorrow’s People is a fast, hard-hitting play about present-day Zimbabwe, seen through the eyes of brilliant, perceptive students in a township school. It revolves around a small group of schoolchildren that are ordered by their school authorities to go and stage a classic Shakespearean play in Scotland. Instead, they defy their orders and go on to do a rough local adaptation of the same script. The zany young group makes a clear statement: that they are not babies anymore to be spoon-fed with rhetoric and old classic tales, but rather, an independent group of free thinking young individuals. The play also touches on other serious issues such as love and relationships, the relevance of Shakespeare in contemporary living, tribalism, and the 1987 Unity Accord. And the title of the play, Tomorrow’s People, is a metaphoric reflection on the importance of the youth as tomorrow’s future. In the play, the youths have every right to be involved in their development, as tomorrow’s adults and leaders, and their older citizens need to work hAND in hAND with them in order to build a positive future. In an interview, Baya, the director of play said on this collaborative theatre production set for Hifa: “It has been wonderful to work with three different theatre companies for this production. I think it helps us local theatre practitioners to move away from group identity and regard ourselves as individuals, able to work with anyone and anywhere. “Collaborations help bring people with diverse talents together, resulting in the exchange of ideas and skills and of course, quality productions like we have now.” The cast includes experienced actors in the mould of Zenzo Nyathi, Memory Kumbota, Aloice Moyo, Aleck Zulu, and Taurai Muswere. Two new faces Tshengisiwe Mpala and Edith Kathiji make their first major appearance. Raisedon Baya directs the play. Tomorrow’s People might seem like a show for the youth, and the young at heart, but it is really for all audiences ‘ a play to make you think about today’s youth . . . tomorrow.

April 2006
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