Migrant Arts Theatre led by Thoko Kapiri has teamed up with former Nanzikambe Arts Theatre actors Dipo Katimba and Chimwemwe Munthali in Caesar Comes To Africa, a stage play that brings to the fore the growing dictatorial tendencies among African political leaders.
The play depicts several scenes of uprising in Sub-Saharan region.
Kapiri, who has also taken on board seasoned actress Flora Suya on the project, said the play is inspired by William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. At the core of the play are interviews that try to answer the common questions on why some political leaders cling to power.
“The current political issues in Africa, particularly leaders who do not want to step down are similar to what is portrayed in Caesar. Despite aging, Caesar continues to enjoy the trappings of power” he said. “The questions we are asking are not new. How long should a leader be in power? Shakespeare gives his own understanding and we are also bringing our own fresh perception of this multi-dimensional issue.”
The play brings into focus examples of fallen leaders such as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Lybia’s Muammar Gadaffi, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, who had to be ousted after years of clinging to power.
“The issues being looked at are not just isolated or concentrated in one country or area. We are talking about the legacy of the whole Africa. People have got several platforms to express their views and for artists, stage play is one of the avenues,” he said.
Kapiri added that the play does not draw any conclusions and leaves it to the audience.
On her part, Suya, who is best known for her role in Shemu Joyah’s award-winning movies Seasons of a Life and The Last Fishing Boat, said her character is to probe the reasons behind leaders who do not want to step down.
“We are taking our audience to a moment when Shakespeare cames and meets people like Nelson Mandela, Mobutu Seseseko and Gaddafi to give them a chance to explain some of their decisions during their regimes,” she said.
Currently, the artists are rehearsing the play which is expected to be premiered on May 25 at Madsoc Theatre in Lilongwe. This will not be the first time for the artists, particularly Kapiri and Katimba, to feature in a play adopted from Shakespeare’s work. The other plays are African Hamlet and African Macbeth. n