Bilimankhwe Arts presents Shakespeare’s gripping comedy of magic, love and redemption, The Tempest, which is being staged at Conservatoire EAST, next month.
Bringing actors, dancers and musicians from Malawi to work with British actors, musicians and artists, together they have created a powerful, passionate and magical show full of humour and music.
This pared-down, intense, urban production of Shakespeare’s last play features the stunning contemporary African dance choreography of Shyne Phiri. Live music and original songs by renowned Malawian recording artist Ben Mankhamba, plus a soundtrack and projections sampling traditional Malawian music which have been created by Bristol-based musician and film-maker Frederick Rich.
The play is about patriarchy and the end of colonialism. At the start of the play we see Ariel (played by Joshua Bhima and Robert Magasa) creating a storm at the instruction of Prospero (Christopher Brand). By using his magic to take the island from the witch Sycorax, set Ariel free and steal Caliban’s birthright, Prospero has sets off the chain of events which leads to the action of the play. His personal journey eventually leads to him to renounce his magic, hand back ownership of the island to its original inhabitants and understand that his daughter must be free to choose her own future.
Bilimankhwe was set up in 2006 by Kate Stafford and Gideon Kagoya, to produce theatre allowing artists to work together across cultural boundaries with an understanding of and respect for each other’s core principles, culture and values.
Their first project was After Mikuyu, where they worked with Malawian partners Nanzikambe to realise the work of the dissident poet Jack Mapanje, presented in partnership with Ovalhouse Theatre. This led to a full adaptation of his prison memoir And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night which premiered in Malawi to great acclaim and went on to garner rave reviews when it opened in London at The Africa Centre.
This production of The Tempest is at Conservatoire EAST, at the West Suffolk College, in Bury St Edmunds, on Wednesday, October 4, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, in partnership with Theatre Royal.