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Protest Arts festival records success
Silence Charumbira, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
November 03, 2013

The Protest Arts International Festival (Paif) that ended last weekend in Harare offered an exciting programme for arts lovers.

Theatre pundits were treated to some of the best theatre performances that the local scene has witnessed in some time, given the hibernation that the genre is currently going through in Harare.

Programming at the steadily growing festival definitely breathed life into Harare’s slowly dying theatre culture that has seen little action this year.

Many will agree the pair of Teddy Mangawa and Tafadzwa Hanandah keeps improving each time they step on the stage.

They did just that at Alliance Francaise with the play Pub Stories: Tony Fights Tonight, an adaptation of prolific writer Dambudzo Marechera.

The intensity with which they sifted through the storyline was commendable considering the striking balance they maintained in recreating the ever yarn-spinning and eccentric Marechera.

Anthony Mazhetese and Caroline Mashingaidze were also exceptional while Nyaradzo Nhongonhema did well in portraying the explicit satirical side of Marechera.

On the same stage was to come the Durban Twins Bongamusa and Musawenkosi Shabalala with their two-hander Up in the Sky. The duo presented a simple set with the least of props that made sure the audience concentrated on the play.

In the play, identical twins grow up separated by their father’s love for one and despise of the other killing the arcane ties they enjoyed from birth.

Theatrical components like atavism keep the audience in suspense leaving them without a clue of whether or not the stage is set in a nightmarish context.

To crown the theatrical dominance at the festival was another South African production titled Droits de l’homme.

Choreographed by Reggy Danster, the riveting dance theatre piece about women’s plight against rape in a chauvinist dominated word had the audience in stitches with its farcical yet subtle expressionism. What nailed it for the set was the precise use of sound and visual effects.

Even though the dimmer at the venue sometimes failed to work, it was evident that visual and sound effects are some of the facets of theatre that need to be exploited by theatre practitioners.

Other plays that were shown at the festival include Echoes in the Quicksand, Half Empty half Full, Unfortunate Future and Caged.

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