If iconic Zimbabwean writer, Dambudzo Marechera were still alive he would have much to say about the riveting stage adaptation of his award-winning novella House of Hunger by the Durban University of Technology’s Drama Department, which was staged last month.
Featuring spectacular costumes designed by Philisiwe Twijnstra, the emotionally gripping and verbally pyrotechnic show was performed by 2nd and 3rd year students of DUT’s Drama Department outside the Courtyard Theatre from 12 to 16 May 2015.
Netherlands theatre director, writer, and lecturer Roel Twijnstra, wrote and directed the play, in collaboration with writer, and Artistic Director of Wushwini Arts and Heritage Centre, Jerry Pooe as Musical Director.
In bringing Marechera’s most acclaimed work to the stage, Twijnstra said he and Pooe have tried to honour the celebrated writer’s capacity for voicing his own anger, turbulent dissent and rebellious social commentary against the far-flung injustice and cruelty he experienced during childhood, while capturing his great longing for individuality, freedom of expression and his overriding creative genius.
Dambudzo Marechera rose above his deeply troubled early life in Vhengere Township, Rusape, Zimbabwe, to become one of the most important creative voices of the Southern African diaspora over the past half century. His explosive novella, The House of Hunger, published in 1978, recalls his growing up in colonial Rhodesia.
Told in exquisitely crafted prose, the author touches his readers’ nerve ends through his harrowing evocation of life dominated by white settlers, while highlighting the disillusionment of a young black man, and the attendant individual suffering in the 1960s and 70s. His raw, piercing writings secured Marechera his place in African literature as a stylistic innovator and rebel mouthpiece of the ghetto conditions that prevailed in his homeland during his childhood. The author successfully navigates his rocky terrain with stabs of angry humour, adding to his creative compass, themes of madness, violence, despair and survival.
Signalling a new trend of incisive and visionary African writing, The House of Hunger was awarded the 1979 Guardian Fiction Prize.
– Andile Dube