Manase Chisiza is one of the country’s drama exports. He left the country a few years ago to settle in Germany where he is in full time theatre acting. He acts in a well established theatre group called Interkulturelle Theatre Ensemble des Forums der Kulturen Stuttgart. His latest project is a play titled Loredyne. The first of its kind for him, the play will be acted online. Our arts editor EDITH GONDWE wanted to find out more about online acting and more about the play as well as what Chisiza has been up to lately.
: You are known as one of the best stage actors to have come from Mzuzu. Tell us a brief back ground of your journey?
: My journey started way back when I was nine years old. I was acting in an Anglican youth drama group Ticheze at St Mark in Mzuzu.
My interest grew when I went to Phwezi Boys Secondary School and I was acting in the school’s drama club.
And I started writing and directing for the club. During holidays, I used to act in our family theatre group; Red Box Theatre in Nkhata Bay which I founded with my late brother Malumbo (Dr Lizard).
It was interesting because we were the youngest and yet we led our brothers and sisters who are also richly talented. After school in 2000 I founded Oneness Arts Theatre in Mzuzu and later its branch in Karonga.
The group is still active and one of the best theatre groups. I came here in Germany because of love.
I followed my wife. Interestingly enough she also does theatre and when I came here, we joined the Interkulturelle Theare Ensemble Des Forum Der Kulturen Stuttgart. And we have starred together in two plays.
Q: There is a new project that you are involved in. Tell us more about your latest project over there in Germany?
: The new play is called Loredyne. It is a play which is mainly tackling issues to do with social media where people turn to be not what they are. They have a lot of identities that are fake and the play is looking at such identities versus the real person.
This play Loredyne is about a third generation lovable character called Loredana with multiple identities online. She has so many identities and thinks she has her many faces under control.
But the beauty filter cannot cover her forever and the fail is epic. Loredana is just like many of us who have multiple identities on social media.
Q: How is this production being approached in the face of Covid-19? Are you able to stage plays?
: We are not yet staging plays in a hall due to Covid-19. So, our production is digital. We are doing it online. Some parts of the play were short while others will be done live online. Every actor taking part will do their part from the comfort of their homes. It is a play done differently.
: How challenging or interesting was it to do this play digitally bearing in mind that traditionally we are used to doing plays on stage?
: We are rehearsing on Zoom. We are given a link and when it is time for rehearsals we log in and our directors are serious and we start every session like we do normally with warm ups and then they give us direction. Of course at first it felt strange to build character on Zoom and then with the director’s seriousness we started feeling it and we got used and take everything seriously.
There are some parts of the play that have been shot and edited but some scenes will be performed live online.
: How big is the cast?
: The cast has 16 members in total.
: When do you expect to premiere the play?
: We will premiere it on July 2 2020 and we are performing again on July 2 and 4.
: For how long have you been part of this theatre group? And as an individual artist from Malawi what has been your experience this far in Germany?
: I have been part of the group since 2016. My directors are well respected. They are very good and I have learned a lot from them.
Our group organises a lot of workshops as well in different areas of the art which sharpened my skills a lot. Every year we choose a theme and all actors are part of the research team gathering material for the play.
At the end of the day the playwright works on a play from the gathered material.n