Dance for Change | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Fumbani Innot Phiri Jr.: Welcome to Essential Levels in Malawian Up to date Theatre podcast, produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide, in partnership with [Advancing] Arts Ahead, a motion to advance fairness, inclusion, and justice by means of the humanities by creating liberated area that uplift, heal and encourages to alter the world. I’m your host, Fumbani Innot Phiri Jr, a producer, actor, director, playwright, and naturally, a contract journalist.

Essential Levels in Malawian Up to date Theatre is a podcast that interviews established theatre artists from all backgrounds. It explores precarious journey of theatre in trendy world, defines the issue, the higher resolution to maintain the tradition of performing arts on this era of movement footage. It’s time to incite as we outline the existence of important array by means of inventive discussions. On this podcast, I’ll affiliate dialogue with established performers, administrators, and writers which are exploring methods of greeting out the challenges whereas their works encourage the neighborhood.

First episode of this podcast, I’m with Robert Magasa. He’s a contract artist; an skilled actor in bodily theatre, movie, and radio drama; A choreographer; and a recent dancer that educated with Dance Belief of Zimbabwe. Magasa can be skilled in facilitating theatre for change, theatre for improvement. He has huge expertise in each native and worldwide stage. Featured consists of Von Mäusen und Meschen in Germany, The Tempest in United Kingdom, Animal Farm in Germany, The Frogs, Taming of the Shrew, Unintended Demise for Democracy. He’s additionally an icon on TV collection in Malawi, consists of: Timasukirane, The Well-known One, and Decisions. Movie consists of Okoma Atani, Who Cares?, The Inexperienced Bomber, and likewise embrace The Undone Daybreak, The Isle, The Journey By way of the Life, and all this manufacturing encourage Robert Magasa to discover extra lifetime of dance and theatre. Robert Magasa has been performing as a visitor actor in additional than ten main theatre manufacturing, which has toured Malawi, South Africa, Scotland, England, Germany, and lots of different nations. He’s the founding member of UjeNi Dance Ensemble Theatre.

You’re welcome to this podcast. To start with, who’s Robert Magasa? Folks must know Robert Magasa.

Robert Magasa: Effectively, there’s the artist me—

Fumbani: Proper.

Robert:—however there’s additionally a chief in me. There’s additionally a husband in me. There’s additionally a father in me. That’s my private view. So, after we discuss professional-wise, Robert is just an actor. I began, I feel, once I was in secondary faculty. I used to be at Zingwangwa, in 2005 there, once I was in type 4. So that you see, you simply noticed what the varsity is doing by way of the drama faculty, and you want what individuals are doing, however you might be like resent, and also you don’t need to be a part of that. However you might be like, “Okay, I can do that.” However my final yr at college, I used to be like, “I can not exit like this, so let me simply attempt one thing.”

Fumbani: One thing. Yeah. Proper.

Robert: Okay? In order lots of the actors in Malawi, I’m a product of ATEM

Fumbani: Proper.

Robert: Yeah. So my first yr, we did three months rehearsal at college. Then, after we featured our ATEM, my first artwork—I nonetheless bear in mind the character, Mr. Pofera Salambula, and the play was Double Blow—was chosen one of the best English speaker, one of the best actor of the day. Proper?

Fumbani: Wow!

Robert: So then that truly ignites all of it. I went loopy and I used to be like, “Okay, I need to do that.” Yeah.

Fumbani: So it’s sort of the journey began in secondary faculty, then you definately already say, “Okay, I’m theatre actor, let me discover.”

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: Then, after secondary faculty, I’ve seen Robert Magasa set of productions. I’ve seen Robert Magasa at Nanzikambe. I’ve seen Robert Magasa with different collaboration. Then, I’ve seen Robert Magasa operating a theatre group.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: UjeNi. Sure?

Robert: UjeNi.

Fumbani: Proper? So what made you to give you an expert theatre, like a founder with your individual theatre group?

Robert: I feel you’d be an excellent instance, otherwise you would know why individuals would truly begin their very own theatre teams. It’s not like the thought of what occurs with church buildings in Malawi, the place I’ve obtained an issue with the Pastor, then I begin my very own and take half of it as my congregation.

For me, it was after secondary faculty. I needed to do journalism, however you’ve obtained a dad that’s… and 4 siblings which are in search of one one who is definitely on a low-paying job and is like,” okay, I’ve obtained expertise however we’re ready to seek out cash for varsity, why not?” So I began with Wankhumbata. We did one piece, however I noticed how Khumbo was operating Wankhumbata. Then I used to be like, “okay, so if it’s like this, then why not?” We began Banthu Arts Theatre, identical to how we began YDC, simply to have a look at the youth.

Fumbani: Yeah. Alright, I get it.

Robert: How we are able to get ourselves busy and never indulge into unhealthy behaviors and perhaps alcohol and medicines abuse kind of. However that was a journey, and after we began then that’s it. I simply obtained caught in it. Actually, he was truly caught, they usually had been like, okay, I’m good at this, I can’t be caught. How finest can we do that? I began a gaggle; UjeNi was simply an concept. Then, began working with Nanzikambe. Nanzikambe truly uncovered me to lots of worldwide theatre and dance. That’s once I obtained the thought of bodily theatre. Then, begin to examine choreography and get into dance. After we realized we’re the one dancing individuals in Malawi, we had been like, okay, contemporary-wise, let’s get to start out an organization.

So it began as a revolution. So it was me, Joshua, and Peter Magalani. Peter moved out, Joshua went do a little analysis, then I used to be nonetheless there. So I get out with Mphundu then we began UjeNi Theatre Dance Ensemble. The concept for us now was enterprise, to earn money. So we had been promoting our merchandise by way of theatre for improvement. We had been additionally doing choreography and video making and simply artwork session and stuff. Positive.

Fumbani: All proper. We noticed Robert Magasa within the early days on stage actually, as you say, with some theatre firm.

Robert: I miss that.

Fumbani: Then, there was a quiet second, then you definately got here again with on you, or seeing you, on stage dancing, and proper now you’re the motivator of upcoming dancers, principally, who do bodily theatre, who do dance theatre, of which we missed in Malawi. You determined to say, “Okay, let me pursue this as my occupation.” Having an business whereby is crippled by way of funds, by way of enterprise, however nonetheless you follow the enterprise, and you might be right here till now. And a lot of the children they obtained impressed from you.

How did you problem your self to suit your self into dance theatre?

Robert: It nonetheless is a really enormous problem. When you discuss in regards to the dance, you’d say, “Effectively, why didn’t you simply cease it?” However you notice how a lot ardour you breathe for it. You’ll do something simply to seek out an excuse to take one other step into the identical factor regardless of how crushed you get. However I’ve traveled fairly world wide, I’ve seen how others are doing it, and you might be like, “We aren’t removed from this.” Once you get there, collaboration by way of cultural alternate applications and different individuals coming to see the way you do, you go see how they do—these sort of issues, the worldwide issues—they really maintain you going.

However as a result of you’ll be able to go six months, seven months and not using a correct job right here regionally, however you get one and growth, you bought tens of millions to run round with. So that truly, I used to be like, “Okay, let’s financial institution it on this one.” However there have been lots of challenges, particularly once I selected dance, to start out, to maneuver out of theatre as a result of individuals till at this time don’t know that before everything I’m the actor, then the dancer.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: Once I realized this, after I got here from Zimbabwe to do the theatre dance choreography diploma, I did end that one, after all, however we obtained the paper later. So once I return to Malawi, and we’re making an attempt to show dance to everybody, particularly an area viewers, the response was like, wow, however each actor then would say, why are they doing? Since you’re doing one thing a bit completely different individuals perceive. However that is what motivated me, each time I carried out dance with Joshua, individuals, particularly children, would come to us and ask one similar query, how did you try this? We need to study that. Older individuals will at all times ask the identical questions, such as you made me really feel completely different. I may inform you’re emotionally… Your physique was telling you a sure emotional story, I may marry it to that, however I don’t perceive it, however I really feel precisely what you might be saying.

So this actor was like, okay. Now, we can not earn money into performing, you understand it, particularly in Malawi or elsewhere on the earth as properly. If the artwork isn’t funded, particularly in theatre then we do. So we went into instructional theatre as a result of one among our studying classes in Zimbabwe was edutainment. So how one can earn money utilizing dance. So we went into instructional. So now we train, I exploit dance as a instrument, after all, theatre infrequently, that’s a instrument to get to younger individuals and categorical themself. We now have a studio now at KwaHaraba Arts Cafe, we do each Saturday for the previous 4 years. The concept is simply to provide your child some data and confidence. For a younger lady, how one can possess magnificence, use it, and get good. For a boy, how one can respect the opposite gender, and simply be good about… All people’s complaining about weaker males, we’re making an attempt to construct alpha males utilizing dance and simply get them expressed actually.

Fumbani: Yeah. Okay. So that you began UjeNi Theatre, and all the best way. As to me, aside from that being the theatre artist as properly, I do know Robert Magasa manner again as an actor. However proper now, I do know Robert Magasa extra of a choreographer than a dancer, and a lot of the guys proper now is aware of you as a dancer, and you’ve got a company. There’s a bit completely different the way you conduct your issues. In fact, you might be explaining about training theatre, however we haven’t seen UjeNi Theatre commercializing a particular present for itself. Proper? Okay, we’re reserving Jacaranda Cultural Middle, we’ve a present, individuals ought to have the ticket. Largely, we might see UjeNi Theatre as a result of by means of an initiative. There’s initiative, UjeNi Theatre is there to carry out.

Robert: Carry out. Yeah.

Fumbani: Fortunate sufficient, you might be on the panel, you and Joshua simply say, “Let’s interactive with the fellows,” you go and dance and stuff. In order that inspiration, why don’t you commercialize your reveals?

Robert: When Joshua determined to do analysis, I used to be operating the group as a solo man. So regardless of the initiative and on our organogram, all that was there, that had been adopted, it means it was solely me a lot of the instances. However in the event you haven’t seen, I’ve achieved performances there, free performances, however they go in colleges as properly. So I carry out there for teenagers, however my energy is at all times modern. So once I need to do theatre, I do each of them, and I combine them collectively. However you haven’t seen us as a result of we’re at a stage the place so that you can stage a efficiency, and for a company like UjeNi Theatre Dancing Ensemble, is that folks is aware of us due to the spine of Nanzikambe Arts, and the spine of Banthu arts.

Fumbani: Yeah. Positive.

Robert: So that they know us as actors, however dance and dancers as properly. However to stage a efficiency, beginning to budgeting and stuff, and in the event you run it as a enterprise, like I informed you, after we began the group we needed it to be enterprise. So for me, through the years I didn’t see the explanation of investing right into a manufacturing, the place I do know I’d make a loss. So it may very well be the lazy facet of it, or now you develop up, you might be such as you obtained household, or ought to I actually put one million kwacha in a manufacturing? Will I get it again? You’re like, okay, you resent your self since you don’t need. So when there’s initiatives like these, you’re taking a possibility to get into the area and carry out and to maintain. However in the event you examine our web page, we at all times put up some issues that we do. We’re doing dancing with incapacity now. We’re making an attempt to get to colleges, in main colleges and secondary colleges, hyperlink this with some guys in Switzerland.

The concept is to carry again bodily workout routines at school. So we’re doing dance to class challenge, I name it dancing to class kind of, in order that we’re giving a child some kind of a factor to sit up for, to return to highschool. Of currently, I’ve realized lots of our children come from damaged properties, and the colleges, by way of authorities colleges ratio of a trainer and the scholar is basically enormous. It’s actually enormous. So we wish truly these children to be identified and categorical themself and this could be the place to.

You’re utilizing dance, and thru dance you’ve found an angle of penetration for social change.

Fumbani: Yeah. Okay. Now, let’s follow theatre for training.

Robert: Okay.

Fumbani: I’ve found most of your work, you’re employed with kids associated to a sure faculty or sure establishment. Now, by means of your expertise and discover about theatre for training right here in Malawi, do you suppose there’s a potential that if we are able to make the most of training theatre, begin from the grassroots stage, we are able to change the dimension of performing arts?

Robert: Oh, it’s not solely the dimension, the performing arts is big.

Fumbani: All proper.

Robert: Our youngsters in authorities faculty, they don’t know how one can categorical themselves. They go to highschool, they bully one another, they keep quiet like that. So that they go to highschool as a result of they’re weak, they attempt to be stronger and bully others which are weaker however they don’t stand for themselves. A woman baby has obtained an issue from the place they began to see gender modifications in them. They don’t know how one can categorical it. Now, once you put theatre in there, you’re making somebody who’s so good. You’re creating little geniuses. So it’s much more for me than only a performing artwork, getting the artists from the varsity. However whosoever goes to go main faculty or authorities colleges, as an actor, then you definately train these. Wherever they go, they may use this talent and be good entrepreneurs, publicity talkers. They’ll be all the pieces. They are often all the pieces.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: Yeah. So for me-

Fumbani: Even the problems of how one can suppose. Logical considering.

Robert: Logical considering and customary sense is simply obtained… authorities colleges on the town, higher as a result of they’re uncovered to issues on the web and on TV. However I’ll attempt to be on the village and to speak to any person at customary eight, you’ll really feel sorry, and you might be like, “Okay, I’m very a lot geared up.” “I’m simply missing perhaps, what? Transport to come back right here and inspire these individuals for one hour.” That modifications all the pieces as a result of it’s the way you discuss. You as an individual, that’s usually like, okay, so I felt individual can discuss like this. A few of us, we haven’t been to the schools, and we get our papers on-line, or simply perhaps alternatives that we get. However then, you discuss we’re performing, we’re doing dance, and the humorous factor is when you point out about dance. Once I say I’m a dancer, they may say, what? Actually?

Fumbani: Sure, dancer.

Robert: However in the event you see the subsequent who know, to any person who is aware of me, and he’s simply launched himself as a dancer, however he does this, he does that. However nonetheless, I’ve to face and say I’m a dancer in Malawi, and it’s occurring as a result of a lot of the cash I made, it was not… I imply, theatre put me there, dance made me the cash, and other people don’t know the way till at this time. However there’s a method to make it by means of dancing.

Fumbani: Yeah, to maintain your self for—

Robert: For certain. I imply, it’s a tough profession like every other else. Advertising can be arduous. You go two, three days with out promoting; you promote, growth, you bought cash.

Fumbani: Now, I found that there’s a lot in what you do on the examine for training. However I found that there’s theatre for social change. You talked about inclusive theatre efficiency, whereby you need to do dance with disabilities and stuff. It’s sort of new dimension in Malawi. We now have some makes an attempt manner again to introduce a community of inclusive theatre in Malawi.

Robert: Oh, you should inform me about that. I didn’t know.

Fumbani: Yeah, I’ll inform you. So we’ll talk about that one.

Robert: Okay.

Fumbani: As a result of for the previous years, you’d see a manufacturing, whereby they might infuse somebody with incapacity simply because to wow the viewers.

Robert: I see once I’m judging artwork, and simply giving the mode of sympathy.

Fumbani: Sympathy and stuff. Proper?

Robert: They misuse them.

Fumbani: However not using them to inform their story.

Robert: Really, Fumbani, that’s what made me began the dance with incapacity, or theatre with incapacity. That’s what made me, as a result of I believed individuals had been misusing them. For me, it’s a must to look to them, what their talents are. If it’s simply lifting your hand, and do a choreography with all people else about lifting their fingers, embrace them. In order that they know that if it’s 5 minutes, the 4 minutes they’re doing it, not as a result of they had been right into a transitional scene or one thing. That’s an insult.

Fumbani: Yeah. Very.

Robert: It’s.

Fumbani: So you might be introducing dance with the disabilities. Sure, I’ve seen some couple of works you’re doing. Jacaranda, I noticed there was one participant and stuff. Aside from using individuals with incapacity to make use of their artwork for performing artwork, to inform their tales, what else have you ever found this technique of utilizing inclusive theatre?

Robert: Oh, I’ve simply began this actually lately, however I’ll inform you it’s a troublesome journey as a result of it takes your time so much as a result of it’s a must to… It’s completely different from those that are ready. However now, you meet two completely different individuals with disabilities, however you should know what they’re doing. What are they able to doing? What can you don’t to transcend? What can you don’t to insult them? Type of. In order that has at all times for me, being vitality draining, but in addition as a result of it’s the adventurous a part of the best way of constructing theatre. I actually like that. Final yr, for instance, I had a collaboration with Theatre Suffolk from London. We did a challenge. It was merely as simply them and a gaggle of individuals with disabilities right here to debate what they’re doing.

So we did dance beneath the moon kind of, they usually had been excited, particularly to share the little issues like Manganje, and to see individuals on the wheelchair making an attempt to do the Manganje with solely the fingers and spinning on the chair. So the method for me, at first, was actually arduous as a result of you’ll be able to’t see move by means of them. You actually must see that, and to not faux however be with them, and that takes persistence. I feel I thank God for that present although.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: I feel it’s fairly attention-grabbing to find a sure style you should work in. I imply, you might be utilizing dance, and thru dance you’ve found an angle of penetration for social change. You found, okay, let me make the most of individuals with incapacity to inform their very own tales. On high of that, it’s fairly attention-grabbing that you’re specializing in younger individuals. You see, you’re creating an area for them to consider themselves—

Robert: Yeah, for certain.

Fumbani: —and the youth. You discuss in regards to the problems with how they’ll current themselves to the society. In the event that they like to face it out, this initiative will exit as a growth. We see—

Robert: Yeah, for certain.

Fumbani: —these avenue beggars who’re begging proper now with disabilities as a result of they didn’t have a possibility to specific their expertise. Proper? So I’m very overwhelmed. I wasn’t anticipating this dialogue to go like this.

Robert: Really, two days in the past I had a name from a physician good friend of mine. I’m not going to call him, however he works with Queens. I’ve been to highschool with him, and he got here to Jacaranda, and we did a bit—for me, I name it preciously Jacaranda as a result of the man is treasured—and he’s obtained some few associates. He’s at all times on wheelchair. We did a minor choreography. So after they come by means of, they noticed this sooner or later, and he phoned me. It was like, “Man, I’m so amazed with what you’re doing, as an alternative of remedy sort of manner of doing issues. I need all my sufferers to come back by means of you.” So I obtained a cellphone name yesterday. “I actually informed any person to name you, in order that she’s bipolar, and she or he desires to develop into a journalist however she’s obtained an issue of additionally speech. So perhaps you’ll be able to discuss to her, dance together with her, see how one can advise her. You, carry them on.” I imply, I’m linked to the media as properly. “You carry her to people who find themselves truly doing it properly in journalism, they’ll discuss to her, then they obtained… We would not get her to be the journalist, however we’ll encourage her positively.” So from subsequent week, I feel that’s additionally what I’m attending to, and thank God we’ve any person who’s at Queens like that, then refer individuals to us like this. So we’re utilizing the identical artwork as a instrument simply to alter extra.

Surprisingly, I loved instructing greater than dancing. That’s why you don’t discover me truly dancing.

Fumbani: Yeah. Now, we’re from theatre for social change, now you’re going to drama remedy.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: That may assist the society. What I found from you and from the earlier visitor on this podcast is that we’ve completely different angles how we’re coping with theatre in Malawi. Some are coping with lecturers being lecturers or lecturers. Some are dealing as passionate actors to work within the area. You’re passionate, and on high of that, profession-wise, you might be using the scenario you will have within the nation to inform the message, to tell, to coach.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: On high of that, what I’m completely satisfied is that this dialog is sparking lots of stuff, of which after this podcast we’re going to debate extra.

Robert: That’s what I would like. I imply, it’s been there, I’ve been doing it half-half or full-full, then you definately put your full velocity in it. However once you’re speaking to individuals like this, particularly I do know you might be passionately concerned on this one hundred percent deep, and there’s one thing I’m certain you’re selecting and we are able to give you… and I would like individuals additionally to work. I imply, it’s at all times me, and I’m like, “Okay, that is my week and the way am I going to deal with it?” I introduced lots of dancers with me. So we do additionally personal dance courses in individuals’s, particularly specialists that is available in Malawi they usually’re in search of extracurricular actions. However I can’t do them alone.

So I prepare individuals, I prepare dancers. Those that I get from Kajive is those that I discover into areas on the street. So long as you’re good, for me, I inform each dancer that simply don’t dance, there’s no cash in that as a result of that is how I obtained it by means of. A choreographer that was from London, Ipswich, was in Malawi as a choreographer at Nanzikambe once I was beginning. However she was instructing at Hillview. So after I began dance is like, “Okay, how is she doing this?” So she would comply with and simply see what she’s doing, and she or he would invite you into courses oh alright nevertheless it’s very simple. So when she left, her title was Samantha Moss, when she left, she left the varsity for me to show.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: So surprisingly, I loved instructing greater than dancing. That’s why you don’t discover me truly dancing, and also you’re like, “You name your self a dancer however you don’t dance.”


Robert: I’m like… Sumadya Malonda ako omwe.

Fumbani: Yeah. All proper. Okay. Now, the journey of being a dancer, an actor, you discover. You’ve gone to a number of nations, you work together with lots of professional. Component of Intercultural alternate, and you might be one of many few actors in Malawi who’ve traveled so much.

Robert: For certain. I thank God for that.

Fumbani: Yeah. I imply, touring is treasured. You see?

Robert: Oh, it’s.

Fumbani: It’s treasured.

Robert: I adore it. I miss it after COVID, trying ahead to a brand new one.

Fumbani: Now, the fruits of these touring, cultural alternate applications, we’ve seen them. How your occupation is altering every day.

Robert: Wow! Okay.

Fumbani: Each day.

Robert: I’m glad.

Fumbani: Yeah. Folks will go to your hyperlink to see all of the content material.

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: Proper.

Robert: For certain.

Fumbani: So now, again to Malawi, the business.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: It’s in shamble. Some are surviving.

Robert: I want there was a greater method to describe it. Shambles? Shamble is sweet, man.

Fumbani: Good?

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: Or what are you able to say?

Robert: I don’t know. Are we not buried already making an attempt to kick the field, whereas we dip into the soil?

Fumbani: Perhaps there are some who’re simply making an attempt to outlive.

Robert: However perhaps that’s too arduous for me to say. But it surely’s a pity truly since you take a look at authorities campaigns and advert concepts of using individuals, speaking about a million jobs. When you put few tens of millions in artwork, you’ve obtained these jobs.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: If one firm simply consider taking one artist to do their… it’s a analysis firm, or simply to go about and do consciousness. If that’s developing as soon as a month or as soon as in two months, then this man has obtained one thing doing. The factor about us is you give us a efficiency cash, it’s not solely me coming as a result of his mind wants so much. It’s like a physique wants lots of elements. So we’ve neutralized it. I’ll simply take you again from Du Chisiza after we had no devices to do leisure with us. He was intelligent sufficient to carry out in colleges for years and he was rising his personal viewers, and oh God he’s a legend. He’s father of up to date theatre in Malawi. Folks at all times discuss him like god of theatre, which I wish to consider that. But when Du was right here, alive, he would do what I’m doing. He would change. He would’ve additionally reworked.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: As a result of the best way we’re doing theatre isn’t the best way he was—

Fumbani: Was doing theatre. Yeah. He survived three many years with theatre.

Robert: Sure. He may have revolved. When you take a look at me, you take a look at the fruits of Du Chisiza and look how fundamental it may have been at this time.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: We’re you, Frank Patani the late, all people else who’s doing that, they’re the brand new Du Chisiza Juniors. They’re doing their issues in response to how they perceive theatre. We discuss comedy additionally right here, that’s the identical factor. Izeki ndi Jakobo are also the masters of comedy, and also you’ll see additionally two acts at all times with regards to comedy.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: What I’m making an attempt to say truly is theatre in Malawi is straightforward to make as a result of individuals are captivated with it. They don’t go to highschool, however they know how one can do this stuff. We now have lots of expertise that must be unearthed proper there. However nobody’s bringing any cash. I’ve battle this for years, after they rent me to go carry out at a company occasion, you might be there, they usually already treating you beneath. They paid you already little cash, and I imply, the least they might do is simply to deal with you proper.

Fumbani: Yeah. The respect isn’t there.

Robert: Yeah. It’s not there in any respect. So a few of us we battle for rebranding ourself, and now in the event you want Robert Magasa, it’s a must to have his cash for him to carry out if it’s dancing or theatre. If I am going there, I’m not amongst all people else who’s on the occasion. I must the sure room or only a place the place if I sit. I sit in my automotive; it’s high quality. However very well-known group right here in Malawi, conventional dancers, I don’t need to even title names, however I went to a marriage someplace, it was marriage ceremony, they usually had been standing exterior ready to carry out. That is an precise what we’re going by means of as artist. But it surely begins with us to speak.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: To voice up issues. So after they see us already treating one another like this, they know we are able to do something for cash, and that’s the place they obtained us.

Fumbani: Now, in Malawi, you will have a number of festivals, proper? A number of festivals. We are able to title it. Tumaini Competition, Blantyre Competition, and we’re coming with Malawi Worldwide Theatre Competition.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: For the primary time.

Robert: For the primary time.

Fumbani: Perhaps that one will likely be completely different as a result of it will be absolutely theatre efficiency.

Robert: Proper. Really, I’m trying ahead to that. I’ve by no means obtained excited for one thing for thus lengthy.

Fumbani: For a theatre. So we is not going to discuss that one, however all these platforms, proper? You have got expressed exploitation, artists exploiting fellow artists due to performances. Respect. Additionally, killing, then blinding of fellow artists—

Robert: For certain.

Fumbani: —right here in Malawi. So I’ll return. Sure, theatre has modified. You discuss of… there’s social media, there’s Netflix, there’s stuff.

Robert: Quite a lot of issues.

Fumbani: Kids of this era, you’ll discover just a few of them with the fervour to observe theatre. That’s killing the market as properly. Now, in most of my dialogue podcast, I am going to refer our icons: Gertrude Kamkwatira and Du Chisiza.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: How they had been doing their issues manner again prior to now. So I cannot discuss Du Chisiza as a result of we’ll evaluate how the media was, now coming to 2000. You possibly can see the rise of Gertrude Kamkwatira. How she sustained theatre being a feminine, and that’s very troublesome in Malawi to discover a feminine author, producer, and the director.

Robert: Sure, it’s.

Fumbani: Yeah. However she dominated the entire business—

Robert: Oh, she did it.

Fumbani:. —with out donor—

Robert: No donor cash.

Fumbani: —cash.

Robert: Effectively, she had donor cash from corporations, however not worldwide.

Fumbani: Yeah, like stockholders.

Robert: Sure, stockholders.

Fumbani: As a result of she was promoting the branding of the—

Robert: The manufacturers.

Fumbani: Proper?

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: In order that was enterprise.

Robert: Enterprise. Yeah.

Fumbani: Proper? By that point, you would see the rise of Nanzikambe utilizing donor funding.

Robert: For certain.

Fumbani: You possibly can see the rise of Solomonic utilizing donors. Proper? However how, I bear in mind there was a quote she wrote, “These donors will kill your business.” Proper? So I’m making an attempt to refer how she acknowledged these methods, shortly in 2011, we’ve political instability within the nation. You had been there at Nanzikambe, how the area was rasked, the donors went out, you had been there at French Cultural. It went out.

Robert: Yeah. I bear in mind French Cultural.

Fumbani: Then, you don’t have an area to carry out.

Robert: Nothing.

Fumbani: You don’t have an area to carry out.

Robert: Nothing.

Fumbani: Then, you would see theatre going—

Robert: Down.

Fumbani: —down. Many of the artist struggling. Folks will say, theatre is down as a result of they had been was paid after performances every time. However nonetheless Gertrude in these days she was surviving, however no person tries to mix the thought updated. Now—

Robert: Who desires to do the arduous factor? I imply, that’s the opposite factor additionally. I envy her vitality, and the drive that she had. I by no means obtained an opportunity to work together with her, however we interacted earlier than. However I actually like the purpose that you just put by way of how did she handle to do it in 2000s. I imply, early 2000 the place additionally know-how was already superior and other people had lots of outlet to eat by way of mental property, and she or he actually was good. However what she wrote about… I learn that one, that these donors sooner or later they’ll kill your artwork. That’s very true. Nanzikambe, growth, gone. No matter politics occurred there, we had been there at the moment, and we had… What I favored about Nanzikambe was we obtained trainings and we obtained uncovered to the extent the place you wanted to go exterior the nation to get that have.

So we used to get it there. For me, all people that labored with Nanzikambe throughout Melissa time, in the event you take a look at them now, they’re at all times stars in no matter they do. However the issue is as a result of they had been receiving some huge cash for his or her work, they obtained settled with that, and it was arduous for everyone else to exit and search for funds and are available and do sustainable theatre. Now, that brings in me as a result of I used to be a part of that small cycle, and also you ask questions like why we don’t see you performing? I, easy, inform you that it’s enterprise. If I can’t put my {dollars} in there, if I’m unsure if I’m going to get it again. So for me, that’s the place naturally I believed okay, let’s construct our personal theatre, individuals. Let’s construct our personal viewers How Du you used to do it.

So that you go carry out, what you guys do at no cost to a faculty, you already set up that in them, as a result of I be on TV and watch motion pictures. I be on radio, hearken to one thing. But when I sit down watching an actual vitality on stage, interacting, see each drop of sweat and confusion and feelings immediately on stage, belief me, it’s not going to be like a film. It’s not going to be like a radio. It’s completely different. An expertise for individuals who haven’t skilled it, you simply must do it as soon as earlier than you die. It’s actually superb. So perhaps additionally the best way we work as an artist right here, artists in Malawi as a physique, I feel for me, it’s additionally an issue by way of collaborative works.

For us, if we do lots of festivals like the approaching in of the Worldwide Competition, the opposite festivals, perhaps the Solomonic Competition and all of these—When you carry all of those and make them theatre solely sort of, in order that we all know that we’re constructing our personal individuals. In these, we’ve martinis, we’ve individuals, children coming in to carry out, children come and see good manufacturing, and we’re motivating our personal children, kind of doing. I feel that’s the path we have to take, and a few of us began it just a few years in the past. Positive.

The factor is, the factor about historical past is it’s obtained a really strict schedule. If we gained’t watch out, we’ll be remembered as a rustic the place all people arrived too late.

Fumbani: All proper. Okay. So how theatres concerned are coming principally very quick. You discuss from 2014 to 2019. Theatre modified very quick. You’ll uncover little viewers as a result of individuals are so taken away with movement footage. Proper? So proper now, as you’re doing dance, how did you contemplate to contain with dance and digital? How do you contemplate to contain dance and the way the media’s flowing?

Robert: So I feel we’re doing little much less about it. We’re utilizing simply media and the way the know-how goes velocity now. Largely we do use only for promoting. So we use social media for promoting, simply individuals to get by. However this, I’ve realized it’s not working truly. So even phrase to mouth can be a greater advertising than simply on social media, if I say we’re coming. we’re coming. So we have to discover a manner by way of promoting our work. I obtained concerned in reconstruction of FAM, not FAM however Theatre Affiliation of Malawi. We noticed some advertising individuals coming by means of, and I feel that’s the path we have to take. Get recommendation for actual entrepreneurs and see how finest we are able to truly rebrand ourselves, and make this as a viable possibility for say, there’s a soccer day and any person suppose twice, ought to I actually go to soccer, or ought to I obtained to see theatre? We are able to try this as a result of we’ve the expertise. We now have individuals that may compete on Hollywood.

We’ve obtained those who have, I imply, enormous expertise that’s going… not coaching in any respect. Now, this remind me. I had a good friend, a director good friend of mine from Germany, he got here to Malawi they usually’re up there we did some auditions. That is what he stated to me: “What? You imply each one who got here by means of at this time by no means been to a faculty of arts?” I used to be like, “Yeah, together with myself.” “Oh, my goodness. However the individuals you will have right here, if I can solely have one month with them and I do know I can give you lots of work.”

Fumbani: Very.

Robert: And COVID hit.

Fumbani: Yeah. Even COVID, confuses everybody. It blocked the opposition of how one can work together.

Robert: Work together. Sure.

Fumbani: Extra festivals went down. In fact, we’ve the hybrid, add some stuff. In fact, COVID additionally carry some alternatives.

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: Open our minds how one can shift. Yeah.

Robert: For certain. It was a shift of issues.

Fumbani: Yeah. So the business is being run by we artists. We now have seen authorities with out pumping something within the artwork business. We’re affected by the assist from the federal government. Yeah, it’s one thing else. Even the identification of the nation is falling aside as a result of the artwork business isn’t being supported. Manner again, that’s why the whites got here in to pump in more cash. The west donors pumps in more cash, they usually’ll inform you, you’re going to do Macbeth.

Robert: Macbeth. We do our story, we do The Tempest.

Fumbani: Sure, you’re going to do—

Robert: We do Animal Farm.

Fumbani: Okay, so we need to do it African manner. Sure, you’re going to Romeo and Juliet in Africa. However Romeo and Juliet, that tradition, side of Western was nonetheless there.

Robert: Oh, it’s nonetheless right here.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: You see, after all, we’ve their cash. The factor is, the factor about historical past is it’s obtained a really strict schedule. If we gained’t watch out, we’ll be remembered as a rustic the place all people arrived too late.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: The artwork, we can not inform our people tales. We can not sit round proudly across the fireplace and one man inform us a narrative like Nthano. These had been superb methods to inform our tales. Our grandfather did, our nice grandparents did them. They survived by means of, and that’s how they saved the tradition going, and provides it to the opposite era. We’re shedding it as a result of we appear like individuals who doesn’t have tales to inform.

Fumbani: Inform. Yeah.

Robert: I’m motivated by Mbona. He’s dancing. How was he dancing to chop by means of the rains, and the rains will even come? I imply, if these are fictitious tales, then why individuals nonetheless consider them?

Fumbani: Yeah. On high of that, we aren’t documenting these tales.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: Even in books.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: I bear in mind once I was younger, I by no means examine Sikusinja Ndi Gwenembe however you’ll be able to see my brother Sikusinja Sikusinja, Gwenembe, singing aloud. What is occurring? It was up till once I was in first yr, and also you say, we’re finding out Sikusinja Ndi Gwenembe, ah Sikusinja ndi Gwenembe is a ebook? Sure. It’s additionally a fiction story. I simply thought it was one thing else.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: Proper? You see how these tales had been inspiring us, and that era is you and me? However what about—

Robert: The opposite ones which are coming.

Fumbani: —the opposite ones which are coming?

Robert: We’re getting out of this, and we need to go along with the previous tales.

Fumbani: Yeah. The factor from there’s perhaps as you put up, you stated earlier, you stated… Gertrude and Du used to go to secondary faculty ceaselessly.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: With reveals.

Robert: No, they had been.

Fumbani: With reveals. So after some a number of years, these college students who’ve that tradition of watching performances, then after two, three years you discover… bought out that reveals by Gertrude, bought out that present by Du Chisiza.

Robert: As a result of they know the way from these colleges…

Fumbani: Yeah. As a result of the tradition was there.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: The tradition of revamping the tales inside, how manufacturing of Du Chisiza by then, the Tumbuka accent the way it flows, the way it all… So these issues I feel we have to make the most of, it doesn’t matter what. We are able to return.

Robert: We positively must reset. For certain.

Fumbani: Yeah. We are able to return. So for you as properly, you do modern dance, which is it encourage lots of college students as a result of it’s new for them to do this. However how do you incorporate conventional dance?

Robert: You also needs to see my choreographies. You will notice each modern dance, nevertheless it’s Afro modern. Inside the Afro modern, what occurs is all of… I take a look at let’s say Chitaguliro from Ghana, I carry it in, and I see the taguliro motion is obtained some Manganje rhythm. Then I put Manganje into my choreographies. So I studied lots of our conventional dance and see how I can put it into at this time’s motion. So if one, two, three is Martha Graham method, initially from America or someplace else, then 5, six, seven is unquestionably Beni or Malipenga someplace. As a result of they’ve seen Malipenga for over years and it’s the identical. So if I see Malipenga and shut my eyes, and I’m nonetheless going to the rhythm and I’ll match the dancers on area.

So there isn’t any longer that distinctive second in there, however you should carry that again. In order that’s the place you will have a Malipenga man doing… as from nowhere you see a again flip, and also you’re like, wow, and it nonetheless continues. So that you attempt to make it possible for the viewers now sees one thing new in our personal custom. I’m not… I’m not making an attempt to alter it.

Fumbani: No, you’re not altering it.

Robert: No, I’m not altering something as a result of I’ve a child who is not going to watch it, but when they see a again flip, one thing that they see on telly, after which he’s like, “Oh, that dancer is cool.” Then, that dance is cool for him.

Fumbani: Sure.

Robert: So it’s these sort of issues. So I take a look at our custom, and see the again stomach of the music and likewise the dance, the fundamental, how I can combine it with every other combine, combine or a dance that I’ve learnt or one thing western.

Fumbani: Yeah. You’re not altering the dance as a result of even from the start they introduce perhaps one, two steps, three steps, 4 steps. Then, as time goes, there’s 5 steps.

Robert: Yeah.

Fumbani: New steps. Aah, then that is one other dance. Let’s create this. One other one. So it evolves like that. So by creating some modern parts, some motion with it, is the way you perceive how tradition modifications, the way it evolves, the way it flows. Proper? So that you’re not altering it as a result of you’re a Malawian, you might be a part of it. You’re a part of the custom.

Robert: I used to be very sadly the opposite instances TV employed me to be a part of the judges at Kajive, they gave them a process to do a conventional dance. One conventional dance they might discover. So I feel they named it Beni or Manganje, proper? You possibly can see how they didn’t go into analysis.

Fumbani: Analysis.

Robert: How they didn’t put a lot effort on any. How they cheated by means of to carry out.

Fumbani: They did not interaction the efficiency.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: For me, that’s a tragic second as a result of you’ll be able to have a greater choreography, but when I see any associated dance motion from elsewhere, then you aren’t considering since you’re copying. Even in the event you lower and paste it in your individual choreography, I must see what you are able to do as a result of it doesn’t finish out from simply dancing. It doesn’t finish out simply from performing. It is advisable evolve, you should begin directing, you should begin writing. It is advisable begin composing your individual choreography. So for me, I got here up with lots of manner like taking a look at footage, and make a dance from an image. individuals transferring across the avenue, make a dance from there. Listening to noise, see how the rhythm bounces.

There’s lots of issues that encourage. Your troublesome mother, your damaged dad, your issues on the residence. Your youthful sisters, the best way they cry, the best way they transfer, all people’s dancing. If that make the best way Malawians transfer with their downside is a special manner, the best way the Zimbabweans dance with their downside. In order that’s why the dancer from Zimbabwe is completely different from the Malawian dancer perspective.

Fumbani: I feel the presentation itself additionally spark the remedy of the society.

Robert: Sure.

Fumbani: So, since you mirror the society, and also you current it to the viewers—

Robert: Precisely.

Fumbani: —then individuals say, okay, let me go and watch the efficiency once more. My thoughts may very well be refreshed and stuff, say, “Oh, I’m feeling it. All proper.” Robert?

Robert: Sure. Fumbani!

Fumbani: Yeah. It was good having you over the dialog. In all probability we will even have one other episode sooner or later—

Robert: I’ll like to.

Fumbani: —to debate however proceed doing an important job, being a social changer. I simply love the dialog from inclusive theatre. Perhaps I’ll ask my producer to say, can we’ve a particular serial on that? We are able to talk about extra on that.

Robert: Please do. I’d like to. Publicity is at all times good.

Fumbani: Yeah. Positive.

Robert: Let’s see how this may additionally get to assist the artists in Malawi by way of the channels that we’re taking.

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: Let’s not undergo the straightforward methods. The powerful methods, all people’s not going there, however in the event you go there 5, 4 instances and also you fail… You realize what they are saying?

Fumbani: Yeah.

Robert: Fall seven instances and get up eight instances.

Fumbani: So if you wish to know extra about Robert Magasa, you’ll discover the outline down there, then there’s a hyperlink, you’ll be able to remark within the field, then work together. Yeah. So thanks very a lot. See you subsequent time.

Robert: Thanks a lot.

Fumbani: Yeah. Thanks a lot for having a chill with us. This has been one other episode of Essential Levels in Malawian Up to date Theatre. I used to be your host, Fumbani Innot Phiri Jr. When you’re trying ahead to attach with me, you’ll be able to e-mail me at [email protected].

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