HomeLife & StyleVibrant theatre programme at Paif 2014, but . . .

Vibrant theatre programme at Paif 2014, but . . .

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THE recently-ended Protest Arts International Festival (Paif) held at the Nicoz Diamond Theatre in Harare was a blast in many regards.

Silence Charumbira
Entertainment Reporter

For many, it provided an escape for burdened people, while for others its compactness in the 100-seater theatre worked wonders.
From poetry to comedy and, of course, the major attraction — theatre — the festival was made in heaven.

By any measure, this was a disappointingly small affair considering what Daniel Maposa and his Savannah Trust team have managed to achieve over the years, but given the economic challenges and the political crisis that denotes crumbs where one needs a loaf, they appear to have done a great job.

Many will agree the year 2014 has had less than 10 mainstream theatre productions outside the Harare International Festival of the Arts, if at all they are more than five.

That has been the situation for local theatre and the dear genre of art has been confined to festivals.

That being the case, one found oneself engrossed in the sumptuous buffet of theatre that the Paif programme dished.

And as expected, it did come with a lot of surprises.

First, it was a dance theatre set Zii from Mbare’s Zvishamiso Dance Group, that aptly tells the story of a community that views wife beating as normal.

A group of friends with some polygamists takes battery as normal and due to peer pressure, one that had recently wedded is cornered into murdering his wife.

His world collapses on realisation that it is only his wife that has died and he has to come to terms with it alone.

Then came a South African production She Cold done by college students and directed by young Millicent Tintswalo Maashele.

The story is about an abused wife who suffers emotional and physical abuse at the hands of the unemployed husband who, all because he is the man of the house, appears to have a licence to do all he wants.

Oddly, the woman sticks around even after catching her husband being intimate with different women on separate occasions and ends up bringing his girlfriend for romps in their matrimonial home.

Their kindergarten daughter witnesses women of different sizes being intimate with her father and gets solace from a stumbo lollypop.

The story ends with the husband falling sick and driven by the anger she had housed in her bosom for a long time, she buries him alive.

It was rather disappointing though to see gaps in the stage performance where action would stop for intervals of close to a minute and that anguish drives her to do the most unthinkable thing.
Millicent, however, conceded on the side lines of the festival that her directing keeps women in bondage.

Disappointingly came in The Civil Servant, a plagiarism of the great play The Death of a Salesman written by iconic American playwright Arthur Miller.

Writer and director Thabani Moyo fails to acknowledge Miller for his great work.

The directing by Moyo was somewhat dampened by this misnomer and it is sad that in this day and age an artiste can have such an oversight, if at all it is one.

It is unforgivable that he took the audience for a ride while there is no attempt whatsoever to make the play an adaptation as he appears only to change names with all the scenes being reproduced.

One that wishes to know more of The Civil Servant and has not gotten a chance to watch the play simply has to look for Millers’ 1949 play The Death of a Salesman.

Next was the Leeroy Gono-directed The Greyman’s Experiment, a scintillating production featuring South African Bongani Xulu.
It was arguably the best directed play at the festival and a riveting interrogation of how men relate with different situations.

For the greater part of the play, the woman who conducts the experiment on stage appears to be in contro,l toying around with the man’s emotions, but the man pulls a shocker at the end of the play by revealing that the “grayman” too had been recording and experimenting with the “graywoman”.

Gono has to be commended for a smooth and engaging play that keeps the audience at the edge of their seats.

The spontaneous rhythm of the two-hander keeps the audience expectant of the next scene with every line condemning the audience to bouts of laughter.

Then came another yawn, the Stephen Chifunyise-written Juju Soccer that brought an anti-climax to the vibrant theatre programme.

Director Daves Guzha, who also doubled as an actor, sweats himself out to try and match the pace set by lead actor Teddy Mangawa.

For a moment, one thinks the play is a one-hander with a smooth performance by Mangawa.

Mandla Moyo, who plays Cde Zidumuremombe, also does a good job, but the play takes a downward spiral once Guzha steps on the stage.
That he is the director only makes it worse as he appears not to see the gaps that he leaves in the play.

The rhythm is distorted and the role of the sangoma that he plays fails the whole play.

Saturday, the last day, saw the repeat of She Cold and the showing of the Mozambican play 4:48 Psycoses, Jasen Mphepho’s 1000 Miles and Savannah Trust’s Inside my House directed by Nelson Mapako shutting down the festival.

The festival’s outreach programme yesterday took to Nyamande in Domboshava where the team had a roadshow.

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