There is space for theatre after all

There is space for theatre after all

Theatre is one aspect of Malawian arts that has not blossomed to the standards that many would expect in the country.

From the great promise that early theatre acts such as Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre, Alufeyo Performing Arts, Kwathu Drama Group, Wanna Do Ensemble Theatre and many others made in the early 80s and proceeding years.

There is almost a shared consensus that in the current decade, the strides that have been made on the theatre front have not really tallied with the potential that is present in the country. The presence of theatrical activities has been sporadic to say the least.

Players from the sector have cited different reasons some which include lack of adequate support from corporates, a deficiency of ideal theatre venues and at times not so encouraging audiences when the theatre acts are staged.

Variably theatre has appeared to be an industry on the wane in Malawi. English theatre seems to be the worst hit than Chichewa theatre.

But recently Malawi has welcomed a new theatre baby in the name Waz Arts Theatre. From the two performances that they have staged, a number of things can be deduced on the state of theatre in the country and where the levels it can possibly reach.

The passion among players is undoubted. We still have lots of players who are willing and ready to make a sacrifice so that the industry ticks. The market for theatre is also there. The enthusiasm that audiences have shown during the shows provides enough evidence that people still have the hunger for theatre.

What needs to be is just to put together a dedicated workforce to exploit it to the full. There is need for a display of utter professionalism to win full support of corporates and people to be filling the halls during performances.

In the same bag, it is also clear that financial sourcing to effectively oil the engine of theatre remains a challenge. Maybe it is the financial challenges that beset our economy or lack of interest, I am not sure.

At the end of the day, the players are faced with a question of how long they can hold on with the sacrifice they make to live their theatre dream. If your will is not strong enough, you will see their journey fall of before they even realise their full potential. I hope this will not be the case with Waz Arts Theatre.

And Then…

Last weekend there was one big event in the music industry. One of the country’s formidable music talents Eli Njuchi was unveiling his second album Red Flag in Mangochi.

The launch was undoubtedly big news on its own. But one aspect of the event which intrigued most music fanatics in the country was probably the choice of the venue.

It is not every day that a musician as a big as Eli Njuchi decides to launch his album in Lilongwe. And even the line-up of performers that he did put together for the event was unbelievable. All the A-listers of local urban music were present.

Against common expectation, Eli Njuchi and his management team decided to take Red Flag to the lakeshore district. That was one daring move and a mark of self-belief lacking in many. Inside their minds I believe they told themselves that as long as a product is good, then it can sale anywhere.

From reports, the event lived up to its expectations. The obsession when it comes to such events is about the size of the audience that made it on the day. That was not even a problem as multitudes filled the Mangochi Stadium to witness the historic event.

Because of this bold decision, Eli Njuchi may have earned new fans by the end of the event. People who will now follow his music on different platforms, people who will buy his music, people who will be present next time he hosts another show.

Sometimes we just need to think outside the box and follow our guts and instinct. Congratulations Eli Njuchi and team.

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