GOOD plays will usually raise a variety of concerns, public or private and provide a variation of hypothesis; some open-ended resolve, while other conclusions the audience would require to decipher and infer.
Historically, plays have traditionally been used as engines to entertain, educate, inform and spread information; other than broadcast what society is obliged and required to do, rulers and chiefs deliberately used drama to explore their thoughts.
In my view, atopical and distinctive play that relates to modern drama as one good play has emerged, The Red in the Flag, a seemingly, heightened spectacle that appears to fit into today’s times with a precise message; first to entertain, there after remind the audience of Africa’s colonial era. The play is being performed by one of Zambia’s firebrand theatre groups, Lusaka’s NAPSA Theatre club, renowned for the unique selection of outstanding plays, the latest beingironic, consciously witty, particularly because of the mellowed story and an established cast.
The Red in the Flag written by Kevin Kawana, is an inventive tale set in an unreal African country that got its political independence from the colonial masters, yet attained its debt relief after 40 years of self-rule. In the ensuing wake of its second independence anniversary, the country is faced with several challenges but one is that of restraining its learned elites from leaving the country.
The subject on the brain drain has remained favorably hot on the lips of most African governments; an unanswered inquiry for many years due to understandably the economic malaise. Will it ever end on the continent? Those who might have forgotten the history of the Dark Continent will in the play be reminded of the salient issues, legacies and other matters that have arose from among most African politicians.
The play challenges the educated African cream following a good education offered by their parents with the maxim, “Now that we have learnt so much, we have to go abroad to earn more. Who will win us economic freedom, our forefathers and fathers who won us political independence, again?”
The Red in the Flag opens to the public at Lusaka Playhouse this Friday 8 to 9 July with a four-star studded cast; Eddie Tembo, Vivian Ngoma-Nalili, Miriam Zulu and Dominic Sitamu.
Eddie Tembo playing Humphrey Shema, is a brilliant actor whose track record echoesover the last few years. He has taken up several main roles, his recentwas in CheelaChilala’s Harvest of Shadows and his part has remained memorable – he has been best actor several times and on recordwith the National Arts Council.
Humphrey Shema, a typical first generation African independence veteran strongly believestoo much sacrifice went into the freedom struggle to just walk away and settle in the land of the former oppressors.
In the play, Eddie acts alongside Vivian Ngoma-Naliliwho plays Shirley Shema – another vibrant actress.
Vivian was Sensela in Mulenga Kapwepwe’s epoch play Rufino’s Wife, in The Burden as Nyakake, and a leading role in Happy Luchanga’s Man from Performed Waters ending up winning several accolades. A mother of three, working as a Development practitioner with a focus on youth development, women and health and issues of governance in Lusaka, and the love for God, Vivian is a great attraction in the play – in The Burden she acted along veteran theatre activist Matilda Malamamfumu and the late multi-talented artist Augustine Lungu.
Shirley Shema is Humphrey’s wife. She is a tough lady who devoted her life to raising a successful son after the several desertion acts of her mysterious, but charming husband. Her goal is to see her son succeed.
Miriam Zulu can be remembered in Rufino’s Wife, Judas Affairs, Seduced; Gods are Not to Blame and Chiti Muluba. To crown her career, Miriam won the 2005, 2009 and 2012 Ngoma awards as best leading actress; this is the young lady who comes up to play Maria Shema in The Red in the Flag, as wife to Humphrey’s son Gregory, a part played by another bubbling actor Dominic Sitamu.
Kevin Kawana wrote The Red in the Flag several years ago, which successfully premiered with Nkana-Kitwe Arts Society and was last staged on April 3, 2010 at Kitwe Little Theatre.
Today Isaac Kalumba, who is no longer a novice is the director; Having handled such big plays as Demolishing Democracy and Longo for Mwansabombwe Theatre ensemble, Kalumba has not only become instrumental, but a dependable director who is capable of drawing stem in mere actors.
Well-marked plays will usually point out society’s ills, raising a variety of concerns, public or private and provide a variation of numerous hypotheses; some appreciated by the public others simply sneered at and forgotten – yet drama is resourcefully beneficial as it is entertaining, comical while at the same time educating and disseminating information – so for The Red in the Flag, for play goers, this is a must-watch production.
Good to hear freelance actress Gift Muneka is out of Levy Mwanawasa hospital following a bout of severe malaria last week. Speaking from her home in Lusaka, Gift told me she was unconscious when she was taken ill by a group of fellow theatre artists, but thankful to the Lord and God, that she is fine and out of danger, and will soon be getting back to her theatrical activities.
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