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Raisedon Baya back with a bang

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Veteran Bulawayo playwright Raisedon Baya is no stranger to controversy.

Own Correspondent

He is a writer not to ignore as his stories have been known to leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

Some of his plays have been called daring, thought-provoking and prophetic.

In 2002 he wrote the critically acclaimed and award-winning play Witnesses & Victims as a reaction to the land invasions that were taking place in farms around Zimbabwe.

More than 10 years later he is revisiting the same time, same settings and the same issues in his new play The Taking.

In this new play, a storyteller is arrested for performing folktales without a censorship or clearance certificate from relevant authorities.

During the same week a young farm labourer and maid is also arrested on allegations of murdering the old white farmer who had adopted her while she was young.

The two inmates’ stories link as the play revisits the land issue and tells a gruelling tale of life in Zimbabwe during the turmoil of farm invasions now known as the Third Chimurenga.

The Taking looks at freedom of speech and to an extent creative freedom, if ever there is such a thing in Zimbabwe.

It asks whether one still has freedom after speaking their mind.

The play looks at heritage in terms of storytelling as an art — particularly the importance of telling our own stories the way we want them told.

It looks at the land issue — land as a national treasure and heritage and also as a source of conflict.

It is no surprise that years after the invasions land continues to be a source of conflict among Zimbabweans.

The land issue is a simmering volcano in many an African country.

“Theatre is an institution that deals with memory. With The Taking the idea is to take our audiences back to those chaotic years and make them remember,” Baya said.

“Theatre is a bank where we should keep our very important national narratives and then, once in a while, take them out for everyone to remember who we are and where we come from. The Taking is universal in that it is about survival and identity.”

The play is a collaborative effort. It was inspired by a short story by Nelson Mapako.

It was written and produced by Baya and veteran theatre actor and trainer Memory Kumbota directs a gifted cast that includes Gift Chakuvinga, Zenzo Nyathi, Elton Sibanda, Aleck Zulu and Musa Sibanda.

The Taking is experimental, very physical and yet remains very entertaining.

It brings something fresh to theatre. Baya has written several acclaimed plays like Witnesses & Victims, Rags and Garbage, Super Patriots & Morons, Madmen & Fools and many others. He now works more with children and young people.

Catch the premiere of this new and exciting play on November 22 at Bulawayo Theatre. It comes to the theatre courtesy of Intwasa Extra.

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