An African Tempest in a skate park

Published: 17 October 2017
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Bilimankhwe Arts, which aims to create theatre which works across cultures and specialises in adaptations of existing international written works, brings a Malawian and English version of The Tempest to the Dynamix Skate Park in Gateshead on 28 October, the final performance in a national tour which began at the Greenwich Theatre at the end of September.

This shortened version of Shakespeare’s last play brings together actors, dancers and musicians from Malawi to work with British actors, musicians and visual artists. It features contemporary African dance choreography by Shyne Phiri, live music and original songs are by Malawian recording artist Ben Mankhamba and soundtrack and projections sampling traditional Malawian music created by Bristol-based musician and film-maker Frederick Rich.

Caliban and Ariel speak in a mixture of their native Malawian language and English and the plot’s focus has shifted from Prospero’s revenge against his usurping brother and the King of Naples—for they don’t appear in this production—centring instead on an allegory of the end of colonialism, as well as the love of Miranda and Ferdinand.

Tickets are available from the box office at Northern Stage and there are free tickets for the show for 16- to 21-year-olds, using the code "Tempest16-21", and for people with asylum seeker or refugee status, using the code "TempestFree".

The venue is not a traditional theatre space, but a large converted warehouse which can be cold, so audience members are strongly advised to dress warmly.