Two Shona gentlemen of Verona

Vakomana Vaviri ve Zimbabwe, a stunning African version of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, is a two-man Zimbabwean riot of love, friendship and betrayal that will take to the stage in May 2012.

Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu in Vakomana Vaviri ve Zimbabwe.
Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu in Vakomana Vaviri ve Zimbabwe.

From Verona to Milan, via Harare and Bulawayo, two great friends, Valentine and Proteus, vie for the love of the same woman. When Valentine is banished, their friendship is threatened and only through disguise, deception and intrigue are they reconciled. In a broad, loud, triumphantly energetic 'township' style the two actors slip into all of the play's fifteen characters – from amorous suitors to sullen daughters, depressed servants and even a dog.

Using little to no props, a few items of clothing and a set that consists of no more than a trunk, the actors explore the text’s nuances from a distinctly Zimbabwean perspective, bringing Shakespeare’s verse to life in this new, specially commissioned Shona translation. With a watchful eye, great intuition and comic timing, the actors Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu draw the audience into the action and create a soulful and engaging theatrical experience not to be missed.

Two Gents Productions is a Zimbabwean theatre company based in London, and founded in February 2008. It is composed of the actors Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyebvu, and the director Arne Pohlmeier. The company’s aim is to present Shakespeare in new and unfamiliar ways by fusing it with contemporary Zimbabwean performance modes of storytelling, improvisation, mime and dance. The company’s fast paced, minimalist approach influenced by South African protest plays such as Woza Albert!, The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead, lends itself beautifully to the language of Shakespeare.

The company members’ individual cultural backgrounds, their experience of migration and audience-centred, physically engaging yet technically minimalist style infuse all Two Gents’ productions. To date the company has presented in London and the UK: Two Gentlemen of Verona, Kupenga Kwa Hamlet and Magetsi. Vakomana Vaviri ve Zimbabwe at Shakespeare’s Globe is the first full length Shona language production.

Post published in: Arts

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