Once again HS Winehouse in Blantyre Friday evening played host to another theatre performance, this time by an up-and-coming theatre group The Young Travellers Theatre.
The play with a cast of 10, becomes a chilling centre of unfolding story when unbeknownst to the siblings in love and end up impregnating each other. From this spectrum the play discusses challenges faced in marriages due to busy schedules, third party influence, infidelity and immaturity.
Director of The Young Travellers Theatre Imraan Shaban said they are trying to establish themselves on the pecking order of the country’s theatre performances and make a name with plays tackling relevant issues affecting the society.
“The Beautiful Hen from the Yao Mountain is a love story that talks about men who run away from responsibilities as well as challenges that marriages face,” said Shaban.
Set in the eastern region of the Yao tribe, the play centres on a fisher Kamulanji who in his youthful days impregnates a young lover but denies responsibility.
After 20 years of not seeing each other, Kamulanji’s son Amadu tells his dad that he has found himself a girl he wants to marry.
“Getting married is like declaring war against enemies of marriage. These include infidelity, third parties and negative influence from friends,” says Kamulanji.
When Kamulanji accompanies his son to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage, he discovers that the girl is his biological daughter whom he sired with his young lover a long time ago.
A fierce fight ensures between the parents. In the midst of the argument the parents discover that their children have already impregnated each other.
On the other side of the village, a young couple, Abiti Saidi and Suwedi who also happen to be a niece to the impregnated girl, are struggling to handle marital challenges due to busy schedules.
As a result, the young wife resorts to having a secret lover who is one day busted in broad day light by the husband.
“Some people were born male but are not men. I am a real man,” says a character called Asimu talking to his lover Abiti Saidi who is also married to Suwedi.
The young actors exhibited potential in their acting with phrases as well as their body language that easily caught the attention of the patrons.
The actors also exhibited their knowledge of the Yao language, culture, music and traditions throughout the play much to the appreciation of patrons.
The highlight of the play came when the parents of the young lovers met and remembered their past. In a scene where the play thaws a frozen memory, other cast members acted out the past while the two parents froze, gazing at each other.
The other highlight was the backdrops which they used during their performances.
First it was the backdrop of a village scene which gave the stage a resemblance of a real life village setting with huts that had doors used as entrances during the acting. Then the backdrop of the lake and a canoe made from cardboards made the scenes at the lake look and sound authentic.
The largely Yao music that was being played resonated well with the play which had a setting of the Yaos.
The play exhibited exaggerations in some scenes involving the girls and women where they were singing folksongs that are usually sung by very young girls. The incorporation of the songs in the play made the scene look amateurish and exaggerated.
At the end of the play, however, a message about love and marriage as well as absent fathers was sent home.
Speaking at the end of the performance, HS Winehouse directors MphunjuMjumila and NkhwachiMhango said the venue is open for up-and-coming theatre groups as well as established ones to showcase their talent.
“The reason we host these events is to expose young talent. HS Winehouse is there to give that much-need platform,” said Mhango.