Wojtkowska revives ceremony theatre

Klara Wojtkowska

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO

VERSATILE Polish American artist Klara Wojtkowska has revived ceremony theatre in the country through the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy following the production of a stage play titled Song of the Sacred Mountain, which premiered at the Alliance Francaise at the weekend.

Wojtkowska, who directed the play, told NewsDay Life & Style that actors appreciated ceremony theatre, a genre which she said was new to them.

“I think the actors appreciated it. A lot of them said they had witnessed changes in their lives. I am quite happy with that. The actors also did a reading of the play called Nzara, which is also mythological. It will be staged at Theatre in the Park and Mitambo International Theatre Festival,” she said.

“It is a life-giving and inspiring thing. Ceremony, as the re-stitching of a human being, saved my life more than once. I actually spent about half of my life, fifteen years, crippled by a serious physical illness. I was told I would have, forever. Ceremony, the wild world, the plant world, and the ancestors, healed me, saved me, ripped me apart in the process, and reshaped me as a person.”

Actor Bruce Mutero said he erroneously regarded ceremony theatre as too traditional when he was first introduced to it.

“As a Christian, there was a time when I felt it was too traditional and later realised that I was wrong. Instead, it supports other cultures. Wojtkowska taught us to speak to the supernatural world when we went to Ngomakurira and spoke to the mountains,” he said.

Mbali Marara said although the experience was “tough and exciting”, she learnt a lot.

“We got to learn and experience more and more. I also got to experience different cultures. We believe the spirits appreciates our talents before anyone else,” she said.

Wojtkowska said in ceremony theatre, the first audience was the natural world “we create to impress the gods” and “the musician is the storyteller”.

She said the genre took the non-human world to be the first and foremost audience. “It is a theatre where we have to stop pretending. We must stop acting,” she said. “It is a paradox, in that sense. It means the intention of the gesture is more important than the gesture.”

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