To incite public debate and relook the image of commercial sex workers, Mzuzu University Theatre Arts Group (Mutag) and Pamthunzi Arts have reworked the play, Secret Life of Us.
According to Mutag director Misheck Mzumara, the play, originally written by Dipo Katimba and Effie Makepeace in 2012, is based on true stories as told by sex workers who patronise drinking joints at Kamba in Blantyre.
“This time around, Mutag has partnered Pamthunzi Arts to produce the play again under a different director; me. It was first directed by Dipo Katimba who this time around is performing,” said Mzumara.
“It is tackling issues of early marriages, forced marriages, rape by relatives and harrassment commercial sex workers face in our Malawian society.”
Commenting on the production, Makepeace said the is as relevant today as it was back then.
“The play looks at the lives of sex workers not just as one dimensional identities but at mothers and family members. They are more than just a simple label.
“It is interesting to revive the play now as there has been a lot of debate in Malawi about sex work, the vagabond laws which used to be used against them have been stopped,” she said.
Makepeace added that currently, there has been a lot of campaigning and organising on the part of sex workers themselves and organisations that work with them.
“As such, this play contributes to that debate and using storytelling allows us to get to know the women a little better,” she said.
Katimba, the play’s co-writer, said the play is crucial in helping Malawians understand sex workers who are usually misunderstood and judged harshly by society.
“Recently debates about sex work, as associations and alliances of sex workers have been across the country, campaigning for their rights and calling for attention to the abuses they face so this play covers all these aspects of sex workers’ lives,” she said.
She added that despite efforts by sex workers to enjoy their freedoms, they continue to face discrimination and harassment at the hands of the public.
“As the cast of the play, we are more than prepared to push our skills to any length to bring about fully the story being portrayed in the script,” said Katimba.
Cast members are Katimba, Chikondi Litete and Maureen Mzumara.
The play will be shown at Club 31 in Mzuzu on Friday then Mzuni Auditorium on Saturday followed by a performance at Madsoc in Lilongwe on Saturday March 17 then finally on Friday March 23 at HS WineHouse in Blantyre.