Angela Sibanda, Showbiz Correspondent
BULAWAYO’s Umkhathi Theatre Works say they feel honoured to be nominated for the three National Arts Merit Awards (Nama).
Umkhathi’s play Bayethe Nkosi which premiered last year at the Bulawayo Theatre has been nominated under the Outstanding Theatrical Production while Ishmael Muvingi who portrays King Lobengula in the play, made it to the nominees of the Outstanding Actor.
Umkhathi Theatre Works director Matesu Dube is up for Outstanding Director award in recognition of his work in the production of Bayethe Nkosi.
The play is centred around the last days of King Lobengula and the battles his Ndebele nation fought with the white settlers in an effort to resist colonisation. It’s a re-imagination of the heroic historical events that King Lobengula and his impis got engaged in.
Bayethe Nkosi aims at correcting, preserving and promoting Zimbabwe’s rich history and cultural heritage. It also corrects some of the misinformation surrounding Lobengula’s role in the colonisation of Zimbabwe.
Umkhathi who are 25 years old in the performing arts industry, have received four Nama awards while the director, Dube has two of his own.
In an interview, Dube said the dance outfit was humbled by the recent three Nama nominations.
“Being in the industry for the past 25 years, we feel honoured to be recognised for our work. The three nominations are a confirmation that the group’s works are being recognised. We are really excited following these three nominations,” he said.
The group is one of the most consistent theatre groups that ensures they hold at least two shows each year.
The dance group was nominated at a time it is shooting a film that will premiere this year.
Dube said that they are working on converting their popular Footprint Dance into a film.
“We’ve been shooting a film for our footprints dance and we are looking forward to releasing the trailer in a month’s time.
We are also working on a dance show, which we hope to premiere by the end of May this year. The project is already taking shape and we are hoping it will be ready for theatre by mid-year,” he said.
Dube also highlighted that funding remains a challenge for the group as they wish to do their rehearsals in a theatre where they pay.
“We are using our studio in Njube for rehearsals and the set-up is different from the actual theatre. We wish to do our rehearsals in a the theatre so that the actors familiarise themselves with the stage and the lighting. It is however difficult to do this because at the moment we cannot afford the booking fees ,” said Dube.
Last year, Umkhathi theatre works raised the Zimbabwean flag high in India when they performed at the Surajkund International Crafts Mela, a highly acclaimed world’s crafts fair which is a mosaic of India’s diversity and a kaleidoscopic celebration of crafts, music and rhythm, art and culture from across the world.