Malawians have a reason to smile following the publications of a book by Chancellor Collegeâ€™s lecturer Dr Mufunanji Magalasi.
The bookâ€”titled Stage Drama in Independent Malawi: 1980 â€“ 2002â€”details the journey of Malawiâ€™s drama and theatre and how, with years, have been affected by government and governance.
â€œTaking it from the 1980s to 2002, I found that what the governments were doing, whether it is enforcing oppressive censorship laws, or lack of policy, or half-hearted educational facilities made theatre to be affected in terms of organisation and aesthetics.
â€œIn organisation, theatre companies had to make do with the little freedom offered to them: submitting scripts, being rejected, banned plays, imprisoned dramatists like Edge Kanyongolo and Zangaphee Chizeze, among others.
â€œIn terms of aesthetics, we were free to do comedy but not critical plays. If we did the critical plays, we had to use metaphors, for example, The Deceased Attack by Du Chisiza in 1983,â€ he said in an e-mail interview on Monday.
The book, which targets theatre and arts community and policy makers, has been published in Malawi.
â€œI resisted publishing it abroad because I wanted Malawians to access it. If I published it in England, distribution to Malawi would have been difficult. Now, colleagues in the theatre and the arts will access it. This might help generate more discussion and research in this area,â€ said Magalasi.
He says the book can be accessed at Chancellor College Publications and those interested can call on 0111 952 437, 01 524 222, 01527 127, 01 524 440 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. It is selling at K4 500.
The bookâ€”which is Magalasiâ€™s second after Beyond the Barricades: Collection of contemporary Malawian playsâ€”is an internationally critically acclaimed book as it was peer reviewed and recommended by some of Africaâ€™s world giants on theatre such as Martin Banham, who taught Professor Chris Kamlongera at Leeds, and has also worked in drama in Nigeria for a long time.
He is also a series editor for African Theatre Series published by James Currey of Oxford, England; David Kerr, Malawian- British scholar on drama and media, and was supervised by James Gibbs, coordinator for the Chancellor College Travelling Theatre from 1972 -1978.