Nanzikambe unleashes ‘Presidential Prerogative’, new play

Nanzikambe Arts Theatre on Friday premiered Presidential Prerogative a new play that skins out crooked schemes elected leaders apply in manipulating local masses for somewhat personal benefit.

The play set in a village-type-of-display, despite pivoting on political theme, to large extent is a socially comic piece tackling day-to-day issues making rounds in our society. It emphasizes on girl child empowerment while on bigger picture generating debate on the existence of witchcraft.

Written and directed by renowned playwright Smith Likongwe, Presidential Prerogativeis a story of one village, which sits on top of oil deposits that attracted government’s attention.

Actors perform the epilogue of Jack Mapanje’s prison memoir-come-play “And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night” at Nanzikambe Arts theatre in Naperi.

However, the centre of controversy out of which drama unfolds is when the village headed by senior chief Khalani played by Ian Chitsekula resisted government’s order to relocate, paving way for oil extraction.

Government has to device its dirty schemes through its agents, corrupt traditional leaders who misled in bureaucracy, typical of African politics that only fight for the benefits of those in power.

With a cast of skilled actors in the likes of Henry Ntalika who played group village headman Doko, radio personality Juliet Royo,  Thlupego Chisiza, Maureen Mathala, Geoffrey Mbene, Yankho Seunda, Vanessa Phiri and Catherine Phiri, the play is worth a large turn-out that patronized its premiere.

In some scenes, though, it poked fun at current administration, how it has turned into dictatorial; manipulating traditional leaders, leading to chaos as a result of complete breakdown of social order and erosion of trust.

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“It is a nice production although there was no energy in how the actors delivered their lines. But all the same its play that is well written and has something to offer to Malawians too,” commented MIJ radio personality Deus Sandram who was part of the audience.

Sandram’s sentiments were echoed by another spectator Philip Mtenje who described a two-hour play as tiresome and lacked mature direction.

“If you observe clearly, the play is not far from ATEM plays, and one could easily notice the writing that is not different from how Smith used to write ATEM plays. Much as I enjoyed watching the production but it is high time Mr. Likongwe adapt professional theatrical writing not the ATEM kind of writing he used to do in the past,” said Mtenje.

Presidential Prerogative
has been premiered just a month after Nanzikambe launched another master-piece And Crocodiles Are Hungry at Night, an adaptation of Professor Jack Mapanje’s memoir.

Meanwhile, the arts grouping has embarked on tour with its two plays And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night and the Presidential Prerogative. The plays are expected to be staged in Mchinji, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Nkhatabay, Salima, Zomba, Mulanje and Chiradzulu.

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