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Almasi stage reading shines a light on complexities of sexuality

Life & Style
This is part of Almasi’s staged reading series which is aimed at improving dramatic literacy in Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWEAN American dramatic arts collaborative organisation, Almasi, will tomorrow stage an exhilarating reading experience of the play How to Defend Yourself at Reps Theatre in Belgravia, Harare.

This is part of Almasi’s staged reading series which is aimed at improving dramatic literacy in Zimbabwe.

A stage reading is a form of theatre without sets or full costumes. The actors, who read from scripts, may be seated, standing in fixed positions, or incorporate minimal stage movement. Dramatic literacy is considered a crucial component of powerful and excellent playmaking.

The play written by Liliana Padilla will be directed by seasoned Zimbabwean dramatic arts practitioner Chelsy Maumbe.  It will be staged for free at 2.30pm

The play How to Defend Yourself, follows the story of a sorority sister who is raped, after this unfortunate twist, college students gather for a self-defence workshop. They learn to use their bodies as weapons.

They learn to fend off attackers and, in the process, gather strength to reclaim the mantle of “not being the victim”. The process of learning self-defence becomes a vent through which they release their innermost emotions of rage, anxiety, confusion and trauma.

Almasi Collaborative Arts programmes co-ordinator, Gideon Jeph Wabvuta told NewsDay Life & Style that the forthcoming staged reading holds a mirror on society to reflect on surrounding environments and how they can be made safe in the face of sexual assault.

“We are pleased to present this Yale Prize for award winning play to the Zimbabwean public. The play How to Defend Yourself is a powerful and poignant exploration of self-defence, consent and resilience,” Wabvuta said.

“The play shines a light on the complexities of gender, sexuality and identity. We look forward to connecting with the audiences in their experience of this explosive dramatic piece.”

The play features a vibrant cast made up of Munashe Goromonzi, Rumbidzai Musiwa, Maya Tekie, Maxine Rigava, Panashe Gundanhamu, Tanatswa Kumirai, Nigel Chindungwe and Charlene Furusa that will be taking the audience on the dramatic journey.

Versatile creative, Maumbe, who takes the helms of director in this play, has been a part of Almasi’s development programmes.

Almasi associate director Zaza Muchemwa said this staged reading was a special one for Almasi as it is a time when they realise another step in the development of an artist they have worked with for more than five years.

“Maumbe has taken part in many Almasi programmes, in different capacities from actor, assistant stage manager to assistant director. This time she steps into the role of director in a staged reading. We could not think of a more self-possessed and determined person to take on this incredible opportunity,” Muchemwa said.

As the presentation of How to Defend Yourself beckons, final refinements are being made in the rehearsal room, actors are immersing themselves within the play’s text, rigorous performance exercises are being made to make sure that the audience has gets to be part worthwhile experience, she said.

In all this euphoria that is building up, Maumbe said: “I am very excited that my directorial of an Almasi staged reading How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla is a play that explores themes I am passionate about.”

“The issue of consent and gender disparity is glossed over in our society. This play in particular addresses these issues in a seamless, yet digestible manner.”

The Almasi stage readings are free and open to the public to encourage audience development. One of the key elements of this initiative is the post-play discussion where the audience can get to interact with team of creatives on matters surrounding the presented performance.

Almasi’s staged readings has featured more than 35 plays from different playwrights across the globe.

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