IF there has been one theatre team that has noticeably already left an indelible mark for being solidly steady, fixed and consistently been spreading their theatrical activities, Kasama Arts Theatre Ensemble (KATE) has been outstanding as one such group.
KATE, in my view, has dislodged many recognised theatre groups ‘living’ along the line of rail and those in bigger towns – as a rural-based arts ensemble somewhere in the precincts of Kasama in Northern Province, the group generally has insurmountable challenges and limitations.
Challenges; distances for the members when attending rehearsals are kilometres apart, inadequate and lack of proper theatre facilities such as an auditorium among others.
Even with the assumed versatile and good leadership of KATE, the few and available private corporate companies in this Province cannot all willingly support the group; but against all odds, KATE has seemingly surpassed the challenges and made it.
The group as you read this column is on the way returning from Kasane town in Botswana, where they have been attending the Zambezi Annual Cultural theatre festival.
KATE director Peter Chinunda explained during the week that the Kasane festival was an open invitation. “We had to raise 80% of the funds as KATE, while twenty percent was through well-wishers such as donations from Kelvin Sampa, PPAZ, the District Commissioner’s office,” Peter lamented commending the Cultural officers for Northern and Central Provinces for coming to the group’s aid.
Thirteen months ago, KATE was in Spain during the Festival of the South, and toured other neighboring countries on a performing spree. And last October, KATE celebrated the 50th independence anniversary in South Africa at the invitation of Zambians living in Pretoria. Beyond that, the records on sauntering into Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana have been too many.
Endowed with theatrical and traditional dance skills, KATE’s entourage included the director Peter Chinunda, Josephat Kabwe the choreographer, Bupe Musefwe, Dorcus Namwawa, Lewis Chishimba and Pythias Nkonge. Others are Mwaka Machona, Patricia Chileshe, Stanslous Malunga, Mathews Mukuka, Terrecy Kapaya, Leonard Imbila and Edward Musonda – the team is combined with instrumentalists, dancers and actors.
“We had two items to stage in Kasane,” Peter told me, “a recital entitled The Drum, and several dances lasting 40 minutes.”
Written and recited by Leonard Imbila, the-10-minute poem The Drum is a relic that re-establishes and emphases African art. Some of the lines go;
In my hut as the night fall
My heart beat for art
It was dawn and the blurry light shone,
Rising from the horizon
Then a drum beat called Itumba caught my ear
The other drum called nsesele joined
when the two…
The rhythm that riddles
Snatched me and through the forest
I got a glimpse of sensational scampering
of dynamic dancers…
Not only for the people of Kasama and Northern Province, but as a country, Kasama ArtsTheatre Ensemble if anything is a group to reckon with. What KATE needs, is support as already it has noticeably left an indelible mark for being a steady team spreading theatrical activities beyond the boundaries of Zambia – someone, somewhere should dream of engaging these youths on full time basis, and sustain those that are still at school.
Last week Chingola Arts Society and Mufulira Little Theatre played host to visiting NAPSA theatre with Dr Cheela Chilala’s play Harvest of Shadows directed by Bright Banda a seasoned actor, director and now vice chairman of the National Arts Council of Zambia.
Bright, an old friend of mine who I often attended residential ZANTAA festivals with while he was with Tithandize and I with Mabvuto theatre has been in the in the performing arts for years today with lots of productions to his credit. Eddie Tembo a former NATAAZ National Director of Research and Productions, an actor and director played Chiko – Eddie has won various national theatre awards as director and actor.
Other notably high profile actresses were Jane Lungu and Kamwengo Vunda – Kamwengo is the vice chairperson of NAPSA Theatre Club and was double casted as Doris while, Evans Danny Nkoya the once Ngoma Awards winner of the Best Actor award played as Chisha with Dominic Rodgers Sitamu an actor, drummer and dancer as his co-player. Evancy Zulu as Zembo and Nyambwise Musona Wamundila as Moira were an added duo with exceptional talent. The play is produced by Isaac MK Kalumba, currently the NATAAZ general secretary.
Staged on October 2 and 3 in Chingola and Mufulira, sadly I missed this interesting play Harvest of Shadows at both venues because I am right now away on retreat at Francis Dale, somewhere in Ndola, until this afternoon when I return to my base.
John.firstname.lastname@example.org – 0955-0967-0977-710975