Brixton theatre production wins top award

Winners (l-r) Millicent Chapanda, John R Wilkinson and Tonderai Munyevu. Image: Ewa Ferdynus

Mugabe, My Dad & Me – the first production at the new Brixton House theatre on Coldharbour Lane – won best new play category award at this year’s UK Theatre Awards last night (23 October).

A co-production by English Touring Theatre, Brixton House and York Theatre Royal in association with Alison Holder, the show charts the rise and fall of one of Robert Mugabe, president of Uganda.

The story is also the history of how colonialism corrupted and destroyed a country and how the British government played a duplicitous hand, and how land reform became the issue which symbolised the difference between western notions of individual property rights and African notions of community custodianship, which ultimately brought Mugabe down. 

It was performed by Tonderai Munyevu, who addressed the audience directly as a Black, gay man living in London and who uses the play as a launch pad to confront colonialism as a world view and as a tragic injustice visited upon African people. He is in turn angry, resigned and amused in this intensely personal narrative.

Alongside Munyevu, Millicent Chapanda, sang and played the mbira – a traditional Zimbabwean instrument –adding depth to the play and reminding the audience of a culture that was stifled by colonial oppression and western values and practices.

The play was directed by John R Wilkinson.

For 30 years the UK Theatre Awards have been the only nationwide awards to celebrate outstanding achievements of theatres across the UK.