Following a successful stage reading earlier this year, multi award-winning play The Convert is set to make its full production Harare premier tonight at Prince Edward School.
Written by Harare-born but United States based playwright and actress Danai Gurira, the play is set in 1895 on the eve of the First Chimurenga. It reflects on a period in history where African traditional religion clashes with Catholicism, as the latter is introduced by colonialists to the indigenous people. The Convert tells a story of a young girl Jekesai who turns to Christianity after she fails to agree with some of the cultures of her ancestors including a tradition that requires twins to be killed at birth, forced marriages and worshiping the dead. She argues that kupira vadzimu (worshipping ancestors) forces one to worship dead people one may have never liked let alone trust during their lifetime, driving her to convert and try, by all means, to convert others in her family.
“I basically wanted to explore my own history and what it could have been like living in that era,” explains Gurira.
The play has been successful in the States, winning several accolades including the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Awards, Stavis and Six Ovation Awards. It features a rich local cast including Tafadzwa Bob Mutumbi, Gideon Wabvuta, Rumbi Karize, Michael Kudakwashe and Charmaine Mujeri. It is directed by Adam Immerwahr from the United States.
Immerwahr says: “It’s very exciting to be working with this incredible local crew; I have loved every minute of it.”
Meanwhile, Almasi Collaborative Arts co-director and producer of the play Patience Tawengwa said it is important to have international theatre practitioners coming into the country. “This will help our industry grow through learning from people who are coming from a market that is already blossoming.”
The play will be showing at 7.30 pm on the opening night, 6pm from 11 to 13, 16 to 19 and 23 and 24 December, 1pm and 7pm on 14 December, and 20 and 21 December. Tickets cost $10, available at Book Café, Reps Theatre, Crocodile Rock (Arundel Village), Vera Mall (Avondale Shops) and at the venue.