A company of 55 Zulu dancers is in London, too take part in a production of "Umabatha", a Zulu version of the story of Macbeth.
A company of 55 Zulu dancers is in London, too take part in a production of "Umabatha", a Zulu version of the story of Macbeth. The play is in the repertoire for presentation for two weeks from 18th June at London's Aldwych Theatre, during this year's tenth anniversary World Theatre Season.
"Umabatha" was written by Welcome Msomi, who also plays the leading character, Mabatha. Although the story is based on Macbeth, it is a broad adaptation in Zulu, with the themes and action interpreted in terms of Zulu tribal experience. Traditional Zulu music and song are included, as well as thundering impi war-dances, ritual taboos and witchcraft.
The company was the undisputed sensation of last year's World Theatre Season. This year it will close what is to be the final World Theatre Season for the time being.
SYNOPSIS: It wasn't too long before the children among the onlookers were invited to take part. They came in at the end of a warrior's dance, joining in the chanting and dancing. The children were mainly from local schools. When the Zulu dance came to London for last year's World Theatre Season, it was their first appearance outside their native South Africa. They played to packed houses. The performances were generally hailed as among the greatest successes the World Theatre Seasons had ever know. This year their production closes what is to be the last World Theatre Season for the time being. It was only after some difficulty had been experienced in locating the dancers, that it was possible to arrange for them to make this return visit to London.
Undoubtedly, the exciting and spectacular dancing and music have been responsible for much of the popularity of the production. Already the Aldwych Theatre is reporting that seats are practically all sold for this year's 16 performances. But there appears to be little hope of the Zulu dance company being seen anywhere outside London. They are scheduled to return to South Africa directly after the close of the World Theatre Season next month. Countless members of British theatre audiences will be more than sorry to see them go.
But if the dancers are physically leaving the London theatre scene, they will live on in the memories of the many patrons, who saw them in their productions of "Umabatha" at London's Aldwych Theatre in 1972 and 1973.