Despite winter's unfriendly embrace on Saturday, theatre lovers were packed at the Zimbabwe German Society to witness a staged reading of Athol Fugard's play titled "No Good Friday" which was directed by Sandra "Goliath" Chidawanyika as part of Almasi Collaborative Arts' ongoing director mentee programme which is being facilitated by veteran theatre educator Julia Wharton.
The play, a tragedy set in apartheid South Africa during the days when racial segregation was at its peak, traces the lives of numerous characters that are trying to keep their hopes and dreams afloat in a hostile socio-political environment.
"At the centre of this touching piece of literature is the character Willie, who is admired for being educated and ambitious as evidenced by his advances towards attaining a degree, a pathway rarely taken by black people of that time due to the existing oppression.
Willie is caught between a rock and a very hard place as the play reaches its climax as he is compelled to make a tough choice of choosing between standing for justice against the highly feared gang of terror that is on record of killing innocent souls that do not comply with their demands on one extreme and preserving his affair with Rebecca who has sacrificed all, dreaming that one day she will walk the aisle with Willie on one end.
In the end Willie decides to sacrifice his union with Rebecca and he waits for the sharp claws of hell to break loose after challenging Sharks the gang leader.
The play's well threaded presentation placed a suspension of disbelief that absorbed the audience and led them to shed some tears and connect with the characters' dreams.
Asked on why she chose the play, Sandra said: "Inasmuch as this is play set in South Africa and penned by a South African, it is very much a Zimbabwean story as it explores the universal themes of love, hope and dreams,".
"No Good Friday" featured a resourceful cast comprising Tatenda Mbudzi, Handsome Maseko, Chiratidzo Saruro, Eddington Hatitongwi, Tichaona Mutore, Priscilla Mutendera, Arnold Rosslee and the Midlands State University theatre arts programme duo of Brighton Ndlovu and Jerulah Muchiuro.
"This whole process of staged readings is an interesting twist to theatre, one is called to connect with the meaning of text without obstructing features. However, more results can be achieved if it also incooperates readings of plays which form the secondary education literature curriculum to create interest and critical appreciation of literature among our students," observed a member of the audience.
Almasi is a Zimbabwean American Dramatic Arts Collaborative Organisation founded by Danai Gurira and Patience Tawengwa. Its vision is to professionalise the dramatic arts industry in Zimbabwe through education, facilitation and collaboration with professional American dramatic artistes and artistic institutions.
It is its goal to see the Zimbabwean dramatic artiste developed to their fullest capacity, and to ensure that a legacy of great Zimbabwean dramatic works is ushered into fruition.