Project seeks to preserve plays in books

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nter-Alliance for Umunthu Theatre, an organisation run by former Chancellor College Travelling Theatre members, has embarked on a project to rewrite and document plays produced and performed on campus since 2012.

Umunthu director Bright Chayachaya said the project seeks to revive old productions and preserve them in books.

Chancellor College, as the home of theatre, has produced a lot of plays such as The Prophecy, Sometimes in July and Nthuli.

Almost all these plays were just improvised; they were not scripted.

Some of the plays were just performed and abandoned.

Chayachaya captured in action

“Our fear now is that all these plays will be forgotten if they are not scripted or published. So, we are rewriting these plays and transcribing them since we have their videos,” he said.

Chayachaya said Malawi has done little to publish plays; hence, his organisation coming in to bridge the gap.

“We have a problem in Malawi in terms of playwriting. We need books on such plays for reference or use by the future generation.

“For instance, most of us today depend on plays from South Africa or Europe just because they were written and are readily available.

“But in Malawi, it’s hard to find our own plays. As a group, we want to have different plays published in books so that people can come back to them for reference,” he said.

Chayachaya said they have transcribed and scripted Sometimes in July.

“Thereafter, we will start working on The Prophecy and Ndani.

For Nthuli, we will wait to contact those who produced it to assist us in rewriting it,” he said.

Chayachaya said the group will also venture into stage performances, with the first one scheduled for this month.

“We expect to perform Sometimes in July in Zomba, Blantyre and Lilongwe. But presently, we are in the process of booking venues.

“Next year in February, we expect to perform some of these plays at a theatre festival in Zambia,” he said.

Former Chancellor College Travelling Theatre chairperson Vitumbiko Gwambaike Zgambo, who is also taking part in the project, said this will encourage young people and individuals in rural areas to venture into theatre.

“The plays will be available everywhere unlike with stage performances which are localised, mostly in urban areas, which makes it difficult for rural folks to access them,” he said.

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