Not long ago, Blantyre Sports Club (BSC) was one of the famous names when it came to staging theatre productions.
But, somehow, BSC lost steam and was no longer on song.
The good news is that BSC Theatre Section seems to be reclaiming its glory.
Last year, BSC Theatre Section staged a play that won the hearts of many a patron.
And, so, after taking some time, the group last weekend came out once again to stage a play titled Puss in Boots using the oldest form of theatre known as pantomime.
Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England, the United Kingdom (UK), and is still performed throughout the UK, generally during the Christmas and New Year season.
Pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing and employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale and, in the case of BSC, they went for Puss in Boots.
It was a challenge for BSC to pick such a play, considering that they had to use close to 50 actors.
Produced and directed by Rachel Leathart, the piece was well organised and kept the sold-out audience active since they were also involved.
There was also the use of a live band which provided sound throughout the play and some members were also part of the cast.
Puss in Boots is a European literary fairy tale about a cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master.
The play is one of the oldest and has been used by a lot of directors.
Staging it in Malawi, Leathart decided to localise it by breathing in local names such as Mabvuto, Chikondi and Chief of Chiradzulu.
And so when the evil ogre Mabvuto begins taking over Blantyre and plans to take Princess Malaika for his own, a team of unlikely characters come together to thwart his devilish plans.
One of the actors, Kevin Troughton, who is also a drama teacher at St Andrews High School in Blantyre described the performance as fantastic.
“It’s a huge cast as you saw, more than 50 people. We have been working on this since September. It was actually the idea of the director to select Puss in Boots. BSC does a pantomime every two years,” Troughton said.
Leathart said it was a huge production and a challenge.
“I love bringing together a project that brings everybody together. I was a little nervous as pantomime is a very traditional form of theatre,” she said.
Leathart said the piece has aspects of the audience being involved and that it is a special type of theatre that engages everybody.
This is the third play that Leathart has directed.
“I decided to do one and even localise it and breathe in local names. I am happy with the response,” Leathart said.