It is never easy for established theatre groups to fill to capacity Nanzikambe Arts Café in Blantyre. As such news that Chancellor College fresh-years would be performing at the arts venue on Saturday evening did not raise any hopes for a large patronage, but like a miracle, the venue was jam-packed for the students’ Sarafina production.
Unlike their sister group, Chancellor College Travelling Theatre, the budding students who are freshers and were performing as part of their end of semester drama examinations, attracted a huge patronage that saw some of them watching the one hour-long play while standing.
Despite some minor artistic hiccups, the students did not disappoint as they staged an energetic performance. Sarafina, which is a musical, dance and hypothetical play, comes as a tribute to South African political struggle icon Nelson Mandela.
It talks about the strength, passion and courage the former president had, which helped to save the country from the apartheid regime.
What is captivating is how the students tell the story of Mandela and how they weave the messages which are presented in monologues and interlaced with performance songs.
As a tribute, the play shows two moods, the pain of the struggle and success and inspiringly, the two scenes are interweaved for a common goal—Mandela dead as a hero.
The songs, Bring Back Mandela and Freedom is Coming, were graced with invigorating dancing antics and added value to the play, which was complemented by applause from the appreciative audience.
Director of the play, who is also the course tutor, Catherine Makhumula was impressed.
“They are new students and we call the subject Theatre in Practice because this performance is part of the students’ academic assessment. I am impressed with the way they have performed. We were disturbed by the death of Mandela because the earlier script was designed to talk about his successes. But we could not dump the script and opted to rework it and tell the same success story from the perspective that the hero is no more,” she said.