NKAS cancer play highlights pot of pain

Spotlight on Performing Arts: JOHN KAPESA
I HAD a delightful experience last week watching Nkana-Kitwe Arts Society’s play Please Mother Don’t Cry – the charming delight was more so to see a

three-veteran-female-starlet behind the production; Vivienne Wamala Silwamba, Fridah Nkonde and Pamela Hojane.
Written by Zimbabwean, however once Zambian-grown playwright Stephen Chifunyise, Please Mother Don’t Cry was a heartfelt drama about a widow Tendai Musha (played by Pamela Hojane) and her two orphaned children Esther (Natasha Kaweche Banda) and Enock (Kanembwa Mukoma).
Tendai is faced with an impossible emotional task of giving her children news that may change their lives forever. The news cooks up a pot of pain! As the play goes on, one sees the anger, love and despair in the family. Everyone’s reaction assuredly brings them together though the news could have torn them apart! Tendai has a fateful disease, breast cancer.
Written in 2014, the play deals with many issues about affection and adoration, care and upkeep, responsibility and duty to those you love, and reaction when real love strikes. At the same time the play deals with gender imbalances from a cultural context. It also looks at inheritance issues, harnessed with love using traditional customs and values.
The play evenly looks at family identity expressed through totems and their respect adding with it a scientific and biological matter of ‘inheritance’.
Tendai has a ‘brother’ Bernard (Nathan Sinyangwe) and she makes Esther and Enock believe he was their sweet uncle when in fact he was her lover, a source of love and financial supply.
According to Stephen Chifunyise, who I spoke to weeks before the performance, the play was written not just for performances but for post- performance dialogue and discourse, hence its brevity (shortness) to afford for debate.
Directed by Fridah Nkonde, with Vivienne Silwamba as the script originator, the play is produced by Pamela Hojane with an endearing and appealing performance that exceedingly won the audience’s heart including mine.
The performance presented innovative and unconventional acting with measurable success one rarely found in ordinary stage plays. Natasha Banda as a teenage daughter exposed desirable elements in good acting; she paused when needed to, moved at the right time and was found in the right place. She highly focused on her deliberations despite her relatively unveiling short outfit.
Natasha’s articulacy was pretty, similar to that of Enock played by Kanembwa Mukoma and his expressiveness added with Pamela Hojane’s eloquence, persuasions and fluency; summed up wholesomely as a brilliant performance that would go down the annals as above the average for good casting, acting and directing.
Fridah, a renowned actress and director of many years, has knit together this play with careful instincts not to overshadow the instructive theme of the dreaded cancer disease! Her efforts to direct Mother Please Don’t Cry are notably visible despite the décor being that of a one-act scene set.
The key disagreement I have with Fridah is why Kanembwa Mukoma sits on the floor to talk to his mother forgetting he was masked from the audience by the sofa on the right side in front of him. Somehow, from the general good acting, Kanembwa takes the sole blame for this accident.
Additionally, the length of the play is questionably too short; from 20.02 to 20.48. It gave the audience a very brief time to enjoy the good elements in this drama. I noticed the audience stayed glued in their seats, unsure if the play had come to an end. The appearance of Bernard, a part played by Nathan Sinyangwe, (a cameo role) excited the audience as it was more of the climax, yet it was the end of the play.
Having watched Fridah direct the South African musical IpiTombi 34 years ago in 1983, I still count on her as not only one of the animated, energetic and dynamic directors at NKAS, but in Zambia as a whole – her Mother Please Don’t Cry is another marvel.
While Please Mother Don’t Cry is an illuminating script with remarkable insights and entertainment, it could have divulged further exposing more about the late Mr Musha and establish the genetic inheritance. I am aware that short plays are usually demanding and gruelling to explore every angle – before they could unfold the story, they unusually come to a suspense, and suspended end.
Delightfully, Pamela intimated, and I agree with her, that the play needs support from the corporate world, and then she should take it to Lusaka Playhouse after visiting all the habitable Copperbelt-based theatre houses. – 0955-0977-710975

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