Children of deceased theatrical powerhouse, Du Chisiza Jnr, have joined hands with some actors who worked with the departed playwright in organising two memorial shows scheduled to take place next month.
In Lilongwe, the show will take place on March 2 at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) whereas in Blantyre it will take place on March 10 at Blantyre Cultural Centre where one of Du’s famous plays, De Summer Blow, will be showcased.
The play is being co-directed by Edwin Saidi and Ben Wandawanda, actors who worked with Du in his Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre, and Doreen, Du’s first born child.
In an interview during rehearsals in Lilongwe, Doreen said the idea is to celebrate the talent of her deceased father, who died on February 24 199, with the rest of the country as he belonged to all.
“We have not had a time where all of us, Du’s children, have come together since he passed away. For instance, my sibling Dunduzu III was just three months old when my father died, and he doesn’t know much about him.
“So, we thought of celebrating my father’s life and the only channel was to get back to some of the actors he worked with. On the other hand, holding the memorial show means us reaching out to his fans and the country he perfectly served through his talent,” she said.
De Summer Blow is a story of a brilliant student who comes from a rich family. He then gets caught up in a web of conflicting parental love, peer pressure and unwavering pampering.
So far, Wandawanda is the only member of the original cast and he is joined by Jeremiah Mwaungulu, who also worked with Du. His children Thlupego, Khumbata, Du III and Serah are also part of the cast. Others are Dipo Katimba and Kelvin Ngoma.
“It is impossible to have all the original members of the cast due to various reasons. For example, we cannot cast an actor who played a teenaged character 20 years ago to play the same role today. Secondly, other original members of the cast are also supporting in so many other ways and we appreciate their support,” said Doreen.
One of the new cast members, Misheck Mzumara, who watched the play once and cannot remember much as he was young then, said he is not taking chances with the opportunity.
“It is a challenge to work on a play that has been performed before, especially to an audience that has watched it. However, there is freedom for me to just understand and interpret my role as an artist. It is an honour and exciting such that I am looking forward to the outcome,” he said in an interview.
In a related development, the planned return of Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre, Du’s theatre group, has faced a fresh setback following the postponement of their show yesterday.
Early this year, the group, which has been inactive for years, announced its planned return which was to be marked by a performance at Blantyre Cultural Centre yesterday.
However, the performance, which would also have formed part of Du’s memorial, did not happen.
Our efforts to talk to the artistic director of the group Khumbo Mhango, who is championing the comeback, proved futile.
Under the guidance of Mhango, the group had assembled some of its old members such Flora Suya, Harvey Soko, Mphatso Kassam and Isaac Bonongwe who were expected to stage some of the old plays which were written by Du such as Educating Mwalimu and Astrida.
But in an interview, Suya, who said she pulled out of the planned shows because of some personal reasons, failed to shed light on the exact state of the group’s performance.
On the other hand, Kassam said their preparations were affected by the withdraw of Suya who was taking crucial and prominent roles in the plays.
He said: “This slight hiccup affected our rehearsals. I do not have the other finer details but an announcement on the new dates of our performances will be made.”