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Artists speak truth to power

Theatre has in the past taken precedence in piling up pressure on the Zanu PF government as different local playwrights are coming up with daring productions.

By Kennedy Nyavaya

Silvanos Mudzvova
Silvanos Mudzvova

In the early years after the turn of the millennium and far aback, it was risky to expose or question government conduct through artistry, but that has changed.

From Tuesday to Friday, a Hurungwe-based production brought a politically-charged play at Harare’s Theatre in the Park.

The play titled Caged is a flash-forward that portrays the post-Mugabe era and attempts to unravel if the nonagenarian leader’s demise may not mean a better life for citizens.

The play, which features veterans Delma Chiwereva and Elton Tongai as part of the five-piece cast, also attempts to remind people to work towards changing things as there is no guarantee that the president’s absence would bring normalcy.

“Time for fear is over. It is our duty to speak on behalf of the citizens because we are the voice for the voiceless, so we are not going anywhere,” said the producer of the play, Joel Zilala.

The play, which was written by Patrick Mahlasera, is a prophecy touching on the essence of morality both in the public and private entities as an important facet for development rather than mere change of political players.

Meanwhile, another episode of the State of the Nation which is staged bi-weekly at the same venue brought local issues to the spotlight last Thursday.

The latest episode took aim at corruption, particularly targetting Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who allegedly embezzled State funds.

Vividly painting a picture of “Robin Hood”, the cast also touched on pertinent political anomalies. Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko was also depicted in the laughter-packed satirical play.

The ongoing show is meant to drive useful conversation around national issues, according to director Davies Guzha.
Award-winning playwright Silvanos Mudzvova, who recently got in trouble for his missing $15 billion play, staged yet another set next to the August House last week.

The play titled Silenced addressed issues to do with corruption, which is the general setting of local politics, as well as intimidation of citizens by security forces.

“Let me thank all Zimbabweans who came to Parliament yesterday, mainly non-activists… I really enjoyed the part when you stopped the overzealous policemen from arresting me. Together we can do it. Let’s continue supporting activists in the programmes with you great Zimbabweans, we can do it,” he posted on a Facebook account under his name.

Different art forms have in the past been used to bring authorities to account around the world and creators of theatre work have largely been known to be unconventional in the execution of their art.

Local artists have of late shown defiance to draconian statutes of law which counter freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution by continuing to showcase their disgust with the government through art on different forums.

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