Mlalazi play ‘Water Games’ premieres at HIFA

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WATER Games, a local adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play, Enemy of the People, will premiere at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) this Sunday. 
HIFA, which began on Tuesday, runs until Sunday, under the theme, “Articulate”, with hundreds of artists and arts enthusiasts converging at the scenic Harare Gardens for the six day arts jamboree.
Water Games, written by award-winning Zimbabwean playwright, Christopher Mlalazi, is directed by Jens Vilela Neumann, an experienced theatre director from Germany. 
The cast features the impressive trio of Michael Kudakwashe, Kudzai Sevenzo and Tichaona Mutore. 
Mlalazi, who is currently based in Germany, said his collaboration with Neumann was heaven sent. 
“Our collaboration on Water Games is heaven sent, as the question of the provision of safe drinking water in most African countries is debatable. If it’s not safe drinking water, it is water shortages from drought or mismanagement by water authorities,” he said.
“Doing the adaptation was an interesting exercise for me because, for a start, I had to cut out material from the original story that could last for one hour on stage, and that was not an easy task as the original text is voluminous.
“So I had to be very careful in choosing what I wanted to use, and that meant reading the book twice, and literally lay all the text on an operating table to go about my surgery of cutting out what I wanted and throwing away the rest.” 
Water Games is the story of a health inspector who discovers that the drinking water of his town is contaminated by sewage from leaking sewer pipes and he wants the city council to repair the sewer system to avert a disease outbreak.
But the Minister does not like this exposure and calls the inspector an Enemy Of The People, which is the original Henrik Ibsen title of the play.
The play is an interrogation of the perennial drinking water challenges plaguing most communities on the continent. It is not only the dirty water coming from the taps; beyond is another world where its ‘dog-eat-dog and God save us all.’
The original plot in ‘An Enemy Of The People’ is of a doctor who discovers that the water being pumped into the town’s public baths is contaminated with ‘infusoria’ and wants the Mayor to close the baths so that repairs can be done to the water pipes. Advertisement

Mlalazi said his experiences with water shortages in Bulawayo inspired him to write the play. 
“In my adaptation I decided to make this water the town’s ‘drinking water’ and not the baths, because of the personal experience of sometimes seeing dirty coloured water coming from the water taps at home in Bulawayo which we were afraid of, not knowing if it could make us sick or not, but the city council authorities always said the discoloured water was not dangerous for human consumption,” he said.