Tomorrow, Global Arts, the production house once headed by the late Walter Mparutsa, in collaboration with Peter Churu’s Complete Arts Project, takes two adaptations of Swedish origin to the Book Café.
“It is business unusual, but we have to do it. We owe it to him, to his children, to the organisation he created and to the nation. This is what Walter would have wanted us to do.
If we stop now because he is no longer around, it will be a betrayal of his lifetime of hardwork and dedication to the arts,” said Churu, who worked with Walter in his final days.
Churu, who has his own separate organisation, which is in partnership with Global Arts for certain projects, is now working with Walter’s youngest son Tadiwa, a recent graduate from Solusi University.
Also on the team is Tinashe Muchuri, Beaven Tapureta and Elizabeth Muchemwa.
Tomorrow’s two presentations, originally done by Swedish legendary writer August Strindberg, will be to mark 100 years since the passing of the playwright, who died on May 14.
“We are merely presenting snippets of two plays, The Father, which we have presented before, and Miss Julie, which we just finished perfecting. We were working on these projects with the late Walter.
“The day will also see Dr Samuel Ravengai making presentations on the writings of Strindberg, the relevance of his work to the world of theatre and literature and how his work relates to Zimbabwean society,” said Churu.
Miss Julie features Tafadzwa Bob Mutumbi, Charmaine Picardo and Samantha Ndhlovu. Together with The Father, which had a full run last year, the two plays will have a one-week run from June 17 to 23.
The Father will only have three nights while Miss Julie will run for four nights since it is new.
According to Churu, the plays will also be taken to three festivals, namely Chimanimani Arts Festival, Dzimbahwe Arts Festival and Intwasa Arts Festival.
“A national tour for the two plays has already been planned and the finances are in place. All we now need to do is to secure funding for a tour of the region and Europe to complete what we had planned before Walter passed on,” said Churu.
Churu, who was set to star in a Strindberg play opposite the late Walter, says this is now the implementation stage of a process started soon after the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) in 2011.
“Inspired by Hifa last year, we sat down and came up with a vision, which we carefully crafted over several months. We were even supposed to feature in a play called The
Outcast opposite each other, but it seems God had other plans,” said Churu.
The play, The Outcast, is still going to be staged in memory of the late arts luminary under the directorship of Muchemwa, simply known as Zaza in theatre art circles.
Global Arts, in partnership with the Swedish Embassy and the Culture Fund, will also take a number of Strindberg plays to universities and other tertiary institutions that will be asked to interpret the plays in their own way.
This would then culminate in a Strindberg festival featuring several universities. The same would also be done for high schools in what is called the Strindberg 12, involving the entire Southern African region.
This is not the first time that a yesteryear playwright has been honoured this way in Zimbabwe. Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s works have been successfully adapted by local theatre organisations to create plays relevant to locals.
Just recently, Chipawo Zimbabwe hosted a three-nation workshop on Ibsen’s works, which saw the three companies taking part in the event and coming up with their own adaptations of Ibsen’s century-old plays.
Dr Robert McLaren of Chipawo World is working to create an annual festival on the works of Ibsen, something which looks almost certain judging by the success of the two-week workshop.
On the other hand, Churu says fulfilling the late Walter’s wishes is just the beginning of a long journey as plans are under way to honour him fully just like his European counterparts.
“We have to also honour our own heroes. It is indisputable that Walter is a hero of our local theatre industry and, as such, we shall do all we can to immortalise his works and contributions to the nation,” said Churu.
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