Chocolate Factory 2, 4 Coburg Road, Wood Green,
Contact: Kate Stafford
Bilimankhwe was established in 2006 as a theatre company working internationally and has been active since then in both Africa and the UK. We have strong links with Malawi, South Africa and Zambia. Our Vision is a world where people can work together across cultural boundaries with an understanding of and respect for each others’ core principles, culture and values.
Our Mission is to work collaboratively with our partners to create theatre that works across cultures, specialising in adaptations of existing international written works. This may be play, a three line poem, a political manifesto, a memoir, a novel ... anything originating from the written word. 2012 saw the culmination of a six year collaboration with celebrated poet and ex-prisoner of conscience Jack Mapanje which started with After Mikuyu at Ovalhouse and finished with Kate Stafford's adaptation of Mapanje's prison memoir And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night, which premiered in Blantyre, Malawi at the Nanzikambe Theatre Space and in London at the Africa Centre, in partnership with Nanzikambe Theatre, Malawi. A new play by Mapanje, The President’s Tobacco, is currently in development; some scenes were presented as work in progress at the Young Vic during International PEN’s Free the Word Festival. 2012 also saw the start of a new Chichewa language version of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Associate Artistic Director Amy Bonsall. The work in progress was performed by an all-Malawian cast at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (who commissioned the piece) and work continues on the project, which will include a teachers’ pack including a DVD for use in Malawian classrooms. Partners for this production include British Council Malawi, Chancellor College University of Malawi and Leeds University.
In 2013 we worked with Caine Prize shortlisted writer Stanley Onjezani Kenani to adapt his short story Love On Trial, addressing Malawian attitudes to homosexuality and gay marriage, for the stage. The play was commissioned by Ovalhouse as part of their 50th anniversary season. In October and November 2014 the company worked with UK Arts International to present two rehearsed readings in five cities during Afrovibes 2014. One of the plays, Brothers In Blood by Mike Van Graan, will tour in full production in collaboration with UK Arts duiring Afrovibes 2016.
Our production of The Tempest is currently in development; designed by Hazel Albarn and directed by Kate Stafford it will be developed in collaboration with our partners in Malawi, Nanzikambe and will be presented in both Chichewa and English.