Sunduza Dance Theatre bring Terrence Ranger’s work on stage

Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
BULAWAYO’s celebrated theatre troupe, Sunduza Dance Theatre, is showcasing a stage adaptation project of a book written by the late world acclaimed academic, writer and historian, Terrence Ranger, titled Voice from The Rocks: The story of Matopos. The show is produced by British national, Philip Weiss and is set to run at the Bulawayo Theatre from February 19 to 20. The book was published by James Currey.

Voice from the Rocks is a book largely centred on The Matopos Hills of Zimbabwe. Being home to a number of shrines, its scenic and environmental importance have become symbolic, ideological and a political history narrative.

The story also presents the picture of armed conflict between locals and Europeans for more than 100 years. Many questions on the Matopos’ history are crucial to the history of Matabeleland and some are central to the history of Zimbabwe.

Charles Banda, Sunduza’s dance and song composer, said they chose to adapt one of Ranger’s most engaging books as way of using theatre to bring people closer to stories that describe their relations with the environment.

“This is one of our biggest shows ever. We took it upon ourselves to embark on this challenging work because we felt it’s a call to duty to showcase Terrence Ranger’s work on stage.

“While some people would want to read the book, some will also find it engaging to watch the stage adaptation. “It’s not about the story, it’s also about dance and all the elements of storytelling that come with theatre,” said Banda.

Sunduza Dance Theatre premiered the stage play Voice from The Rocks: The story of Matopos in December 2015 at the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo.

Terrence Ranger died in Oxford, UK at the age of 85. He was one of the most stimulating and influential African historians of the last half century. Sunduza Dance Theatre is bringing to life, on stage, works by a scholar of remarkable energy.

They have been pushing their beautiful scintillating harmonies, percussive rhythms and high energy dances internationally. The productions reflect a wide range of Southern African dance normally displayed in a context to which international audiences can relate.

Sunduza’s stage productions are adaptable to different venues. The full stage productions support drama, dance, music and commentary on social issues in Southern Africa. They also include a multimedia element.

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  • Philip Weiss

    A helpful article supporting creativity in the city.The creative industries are central to the well being, income generation and employment and regeneration of the city. I would however point out that Voices on the Rocks- the Story of the Matopos is a revival of the original production that had its premiere at the Merlin Theatre in Sheffield in 2002 and was sponsored in 2004 by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair to run at Alliance Francaise for several performances. The original music is mostly by the late Simon Banda and the all important adaptation of the book is by the late Mandla Sibanda both central to the success of Sunduza in international theatres. Support from the Natural History Museum in its grand performance space is most welcome as the production so much reflects environmental history and different cultural interpretations of the use of the land.