A new live theatre programme called Theatre in Mandala, to be hosted by Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre, is set to roll out tomorrow.
As part of the programme, the centre will be hosting live Malawian theatre performances once a month with the aim of attracting audiences back to live stage performances as well as giving theatre groups a platform to showcase their new work.
Curator of the programme Taonga Taddja Nkhonjera said he observed that many authentic Malawian stories are being told through theatre but do not reach many audiences due to inadequate platforms to showcase them.
He said the initiative will work to counter the effects of technology advancement and the emergence of alternative forms of entertainment which has damaged the patronage that theatre used to command decades ago.
Said Nkhonjera: “We will create a sustained theatre-going culture which will nurture and grow our audience. We have a strict policy on original Malawian production.
“This is not a deterrent to learning from other cultures, rather it is because most theatre groups lately have been working on adaptations of plays from around the world because these plays are easy to produce.”
He said Theatre in Mandala will also provide an opportunity for new actors to be introduced and allow them to build networks for developing theatre, both locally and internationally.
Nkhonjera added that from their findings, they have discovered that artists working in theatre, as compared with their counterparts in the music industry, are struggling to commercialise their art.
“Theatre in Mandala will champion and facilitate theatre workshops, trainings, talks, skills transfer, residencies and cultural exchanges all aimed at developing theatre in Malawi.
“We will pursue education and courses to turn theatre into actual business that generates sustainable income and contributes to the country’s economy. We hope by doing so the government will start investing in theatre,” he said.
To mark the launch of the programme, JCC will tomorrow stage activities such as playback theatre, workshops, play readings, dramatised poetry, stand-up comedy and skits. There will also be performances from Young Travellers Theatre and YDC Theatre.
Young Travellers Theatre director Imran Shaban said they will stage a one-person play Dark Days of Marriage which stars Aisha Sanudi.
He said they will perform a 30-minute excerpt of the play whose theme is gender-based violence.
“We have been showcasing this play in international festivals and the response has been good. This will be the first time it will be performed in Malawi ahead of its official launch. We are really excited,” said Shaban.