Sun­duza brings Mof­fat, Mzi­likazi back to life

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Entertainment - Bruce Ndlovu

DE­FY­ING lo­cal arts’ fix­a­tion with the present, arts en­sem­ble Sun­duza Dance Theatre is set to go over a cen­tury back in time as they ex­plore the cap­ti­vat­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Bri­tish mis­sion­ar­ies and found­ing Nde­bele King Mzi­likazi.

The play, a re­vival of a 1998 pro­duc­tion called Matata - The Big Prob­lem - which was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for the Ge­orge Square Theatre at the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val and also had a run at the Glas­ton­bury Fes­ti­val fol­low­ing a tour of Canada then, will have its de­but show­ing a t Bu­l­awayo Theatre on Fri­day. The show’s first run will be at 1PM while its sec­ond and last run of the day kicks off at 6PM. With pro­duc­tions com­ing out of the city this year mainly shin­ing the spot­light on the cur­rent so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues of the day, Sun­duza’s dig into the past will be a wel­come change for theatre lovers. Serv­ing a com­pelling con­coc­tion of song, dance and cap­ti­vat­ing act­ing, the group will at­tempt to re-pack­age the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween Mof­fat and Mzi­likazi through the fast mov­ing mu­si­cal, which was de­vel­oped after a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween its late founder Si­mon Banda, who com­posed most of the mu­sic and chore­og­ra­phy, the late Mandla Sibanda, who de­vised much of the text from ma­te­rial gleaned from the Na­tional Archives and Philip Weiss, their pro­ducer. Led by Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Charles Banda, who seems to have not only in­her­ited his fa­ther’s lead­er­ship qual­i­ties but his vo­cal prow­ess as well, the cast that will at­tempt to bring to the stage the com­plex re­la­tion­ship be­tween Mof­fat and Mzi­likazi in­cludes stal­warts Bekithemba Sibanda, Baphi Md­ladla, Khali­pani Ndlovu, Gugulethe Mh­langa, Peter Ruwanga, Ivy Khoma, Mkhu­l­uli Khanye and new mem­bers Linda Sit­hole, Sikhangezile Ndlovu and Ntando Sit­hole.

Us­ing largely un­der­utilised sources of his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, the pro­duc­tion is de­rived from the con­ver­sa­tions and ob­ser­va­tions doc­u­mented in the di­aries of Robert Mof­fat, which are pub­lished by the Na­tional Archives.

De­spite the pro­duc­tion hav­ing its eye firmly fixed on the past, the larger ob­jec­tive of the play is to show­case how the ac­tions and at­ti­tudes of set­tlers might not have gone to the grave with them but in­stead con­tinue to shape the prob­lems faced by mod­ern day Zim­babwe.

“We want to show how the ac­tions of set­tlers like Mof­fat had a link to the prob­lems peo­ple might face to­day. That’s why we now want to take the pro­duc­tion out­side Bu­l­awayo to other re­gions so that peo­ple can see their his­tory play out on stage,” said Banda.

Banda, who had to aban­don his am­bi­tions of a foot­ball ca­reer to steer Sun­duza’s ship after the death of his fa­ther in 2012, said al­though it had been tough go­ing in the last few years, Sun­duza was still striv­ing for artis­tic ex­cel­lence.

“Things were hard in the be­gin­ning but we had bene­fac­tors who en­cour­aged the group to stay on track.’’


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