A theatre masterpiece from Braeburn

Friday February 16 2018

Students from Braeburn International School

Students from Braeburn International School Arusha performing on stage last Friday at their sister school in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By Janet Otieno-Prosper @JanetOtieno ajotieno@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Last Friday, drama lovers were treated to a riveting who-dunnit play at Braeburn International School, Dar es Salaam. Students from Braeburn International School Arusha performed the play, which was originally set in 1912 Britain.

The students came together to bring JB Priestley play “An inspector Calls” to life in Dar es Salaam. The play explores how many countries try to build walls to shut people out; but Inspector Goole arrives on the scene, to challenge such individualistic approach by reminding us the importance of community.

When Inspector Goole (Safari Mosha) arrives unexpectedly at the prosperous Limo family home, their peaceful dinner party is shattered by his investigations into the death of a young woman. His startling revelations shake the foundations of their lives and challenge them to examine their consciences. Gripping and thrilling, this school curriculum play is a theatre masterpiece that never disappoints.

Portraying a character that the audience should look down on and think of as a fool may seem challenging for many actors but Andrew Ogonji, a student of Performing Arts, Music and Creative Media in Form Six, was the audience’ favourite, portraying the role of Mr Limo – he perfectly managed to find some connection with this role and executed it to the letter.

The young actor told The Beat that he is committed to a career in acting.

Mr Michael Magambo, one of the directors of the play, pointed out that the play which was originally written for a cast of 7 people had to be transformed into cast of 60.

“This was to enable most students who had shown interest during the auditions to take part,” he stated.

It was such a captivating play if loud cheers and claps were anything to go by but there was also more to be learnt.

According to Ms Alison Rodgers, the head teacher of Breaburn International School Arusha, the play was largely a work of students collaboration and producing it involved almost half of the secondary school.

“The students who took part are a tribute to the vibrant and cutting edge Drama and Performing Arts department but other departments were involved as well. Students from Physics Department for instance were involved in creating mechanics of the set, while Art Department helped to design and paint the set. Business and IT worked on tickets and marketing the event while History students helped in researching the context of the original play,” she explained at the end of the show.

In adapting the play in Tanzanian context, JB Priestley, just like Tanzanian founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was a socialist who believed strongly in the importance of community. The play challenges all those who are privileged and can afford to have anything they want not to forget the common person just because of different social status.

In the original play, Priestley represented the common person through Eva Smith but for Braeburn International School Arusha, they went for Eva Lightness (Nicole Kombe and Remotse Kgwadi) – something bright to help the world see better. The play also challenges successful big industries around us to pay their employees a fair salary. In the play, Lightness’ move to ask for a pay rise gets her dismissed. The play challenges us to start placing more value on people and not money. Mrs Limo (Josephine Kiaga) just wants air of perfection around her and her family, a place too perfect without common people – clearly too perfect to exist in a normal society.

The play captured exactly what JB Priestley tried to put across; being on the people’s side and wanted the rich and privileged to be more considerate. He wanted the audience to look down on characters like Mr Limo.

The play also had plenty of lessons to offer to the teen audience through Mr Limo’s children Eric (Marvin Onwukwe) and Sheila (Layla Chege) who are privileged and abuse their position. Gerald Mapesa (Joshua Sekgapane) also uses money and fame to get anything he wants. It also wanted young people to see the consequences of their actions like drinking and having unprotected sex. At the end of the play, the set laid bare that despite our privileges, we are all connected to each other and have responsibility to treat all people with respect in this fast changing world.