The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: British Council to Premiere Nine Plays

The British Council will premiere nine plays at this year's Harare International Festival of the Arts that kicks off in Harare tomorrow. This probably will be the biggest commissioning by one production house this year and already theatre enthusiasts are already preparing for a fun-filled six days.

Some of the plays to be commissioned will include a Shakespearean adaptation The Merchant of Venice, Live Vibe, Bed in Her Head, Third Person that was done by Bonnie and Clyde, The Accused by Patrice Naiamban, I Have Sinned, It Never Rains by Nothalo Dube and Sonic Slam done by Chorus.

The beauty about these productions is that they will be featuring both local and international theatre gurus, who co-ordinated all their efforts either through writing, directing and acting, bringing out fantastic productions, in areas that included syntax, choreography and story lines.

While some of the plays would be adaptations from books written by renowned classical authors that include The Merchant of Venice, the rest are highly innovative creations that take a dig at social ills, while trying to proffer solutions.

One of the plays that theatre enthusiasts will find intriguing is a play written by Nonthalo Dube and directed by Thembile Moyo, titled It Never Rains about a lady, Sqo, who goes through a number of life challenges.

It Never Rains mixes celebrational music, traditional and modern dance and a dynamic, bold theatrical style to tell a moving story about the power of the individual and the strength of community in the face of enormous challenges

Another play that theatre lovers will find entertaining is the traditional play Merchant of Venice.

This adaptation features an ensemble that sings, acts and plays instruments, aiming to bring into being a new vision of total performance and a unique form of contemporary singing theatre. The narrative unfolds in a world that aligns Shakespeare's Venice, with inspiration from Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and Rastafarian rituals.

Juwon Ogungbe, who has composed the music, mainly to Shakespeare's language, is co-directing this production with Teddy Mangawa -- a talented emerging Zimbabwean theatre maker.

The ensemble features several new names and faces to watch from Harare's vibrant music and theatre scenes.

Juwon Ogungbe has composed for the Southbank Centre, London, Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC amongst others. He has performed with London Sinfonietta, Aldeburgh Productions and for the BBC in association with the British Library.

He also leads bands in the UK, such as The Vocal Ensemble of Africa. Juwon's debut album "Life Force Music" is currently available for downloads on iTunes, Amazon and other reputable outlets.

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