In Zimbabwe the play was first staged at Solusi University during the annual Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo last year, and also featured at the Harare International Festival of the Arts.
The fast paced Afro-centric play is infused with African songs, dance and poetry in its quest to interrogate Shakespeare’s portrayal of Africa, its peoples and culture.
It also seeks to address the major themes of racism, stereotyping, deceit and hatred, juxtaposing Europe in the Elizabethan period and life in Africa today.
The play was conceptualised by Patrice Naimbana, a theatre veteran from Sierra Leon who is currently based in the UK. The cast and production team features local and international actors.
Tafadzwa Bob Mutumbi plays Othello, while Londoner Isabel Tredinnick features as Desdemona. Veteran theatre practitioner Eunice Tava co-directed the play.
The Gospel of Othello has been staged in the UK, South Africa, Canada and Zimbabwe by professional and emerging artists. It is a project established as community theatre for development with an African perspective.
It is a story about African women that bear the pain of the absence of sons and daughters that leave for faraway lands in search of greener pastures. The love between the ‘Black Othello’ and the beautiful Italian Desdemona transcends all barriers but this is not enough to avert a tragic train of events.
The play highlights the predicament of exile in Shakespeare’s story of love and betrayal.
Performed in a mixture of Shona, Ndebele, and Shakespearian verse, The Gospel of Othello offers a fresh portrayal Othello.
Besides Mutumbi and Tredinnick other actors in the play are Mhondiwa Mhepo who plays Iago, Zanele Maseko (Emilia), Shelton Mpofu (Cassio), Brenda Jeranje (Bianca), Pamela Gonye (Modiba), Rejoice Simango (Kiara) and Josphat Ndlovu who features in two roles as as Brabantio and Griot.
Menwhile the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), to be held from May 1 – 6, is set to offer a diverse theatre programme.
One act which is bound to be a hit this year is Big Boys Don’t Dance from South Africa, which was written by Ash and Bradley Searle and directed and choreographed by Vanessa Harris
Big Boys Don’t Dance is set at Ash’s bachelor’s party where outrageous ideas lead to trouble.
The boys get into their fair share of trouble but from one ridiculous idea to another, they prove that true brothers watch each other’s back. They challenge the cliché of the “male dancer” using dance styles, from 1980’s hip hop to kwaito and dirty dancing
This high-energy production won a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the 2010 National Arts Festival and the Suliman Award at the 2012 Musho Festival.
Presented by Follow Spot Productions the play will be staged at Reps Theatre from May 2 – 4. The Theatre and many other Hifa theatre venues will host numerous exciting plays throughout the festival.— Staff Writers.