Duke students Jamie Bell and Austin Powers will present Mukwerere, an original play written by Bell, designed by Powers and set in Zimbabwe. Durham artist Tamara Kissane is directing. The play is Bell’s and Powers’ senior distinction project and will run Feb. 12-14, 2015 in Sheafer Theater on Duke’s West Campus.
The title is derived from the Zimbabwean Mukwerere ritual—a rain-making ceremony—a plea to the ancestors to bring rain to thirsty fields and yield a fruitful harvest, explains Bell, herself a native of Zimbabwe. When the rivers run low, beer is brewed, the ancestral graves are swept, and the dance begins.
The play captures a moment in the lives of four characters who call Zimbabwe home, according to Bell. The play explores experiences of those characters who tackle the question of belonging, as the ghosts of the past, made up of the deaths of hundreds of white Zimbabwean farmers in the land battle under the Mugabe regime, continue to haunt their present.
Powers says his goal as designer has been to capture as much of the magic and mystery of Zimbabwe and consume as much background information on the country, as possible. He wanted to create authentic but original design support for Bell's story, to help communicate the fascinating and tragic qualities of her country.
by Jamie Bell
design by Austin Powers
(Sr. Distinction Project)
Sheafer Theater, West Campus
Admission Free of Charge
Feb. 12-14 at 8:00 pm