Veteran actor laments effects of Covid-19 on theatre

Nyathi has been showcasing his production — An Act of Man in different countries.

VETERAN actor and director Zenzo Nyathi says there is need to bring back live audiences to the theatres through presenting quality products.

Nyathi has been showcasing his production — An Act of Man in different countries.

The production, directed by Memory Kumbota has been well received in Eswatini, Madsoc Theatre in Malawi and Kwaguqa International Festival happening in South Africa (Mpumalanga) so far.

It speaks about a rain diviner forced to look not only to  past traditions, but also to the future to try to come to terms with his own personal misfortunes and the natural disasters of droughts and floods.

It’s told through a zestful mix of storytelling, mime, dance and song.

The play adventurously interrogates the role that traditional knowledge systems and science play in a fast changing world and in climate change intervention.

An Act of Man aims to inspire an understanding of and action and debate on climate change issues with a look at how science and traditional knowledge systems can influence climate change interventions and dialogue across individual, community and governmental spheres.

Standard Style asked Nyathi about the key takeaways he is getting from these countries after showcasing the production.

“The lessons so far are that post-Covid-19, a lot of spaces went dead and bringing them back to life is a mammoth task," he said.

"Audiences are hard to come by, not that I'm complaining. But I just feel and think we have a huge task in bringing back our live audiences to the theatres and that could be in form of consistent use of the venues and bringing/presenting quality products.

“Also there is a group that has always been followers of theatre and those ones are still there and that says we are not producing enough. There is still a hunger for live performances but like i said we ought to be consistent and give quality not to disrespect the people.”

Nyathi said the hunger to perform, especially after a long sabbatical due to Covid-19 forced him to embark on these tours.

“It was to take our story to the people. We felt we sit so much on some great products and don't push them to the maximum, making it difficult for them to grow as well as the actors involved to grow," he said.

“With this one we said since it’s a one hander it’s not expansive to take around, most of these travels are self funded with help from a few friends and well wishers, no donor involved. We want to get the show to the people and all over.”

He added that the aim is to inform people that climate change is not only a term but it’s real and happening.

“We have a huge role to play in curbing it and it’s everyone's responsibility. We need also to show the power of storytelling with which we were brought up in and also to say to the people science and traditional knowledge systems can work together in the fight against climate change,” said Nyathi.

Asked about his recent show in Malawi, he responded: “Well I hate dancing and clapping for myself, but  I feel so far my Malawi performance was the best.”

“The show was well received and we discussed possible collaborations for next year with Madsoc Theatre," he said.

“The professionalism as to how the theatre is run and how the actor is respected. They know and understand that the actor is at work.”

Nyathi said they were not stopping any time soon on showcasing the production and over the weekend they are in South Africa.

“We would love to do all of Africa and currently looking forward to Kwaguqa International Festival happening in South Africa (Mpumalanga), we are playing there on Saturday,” he said.

“Once back home we will be getting ready for the One Hander International Festival in Harare on the last week of October.

“The travelling story teller is still on the go. For us to then take all of Africa, yes we need support from those that can and are willing. We are open for business.”

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