Winner of six ovation awards, the 2011 Stavis Award, the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Writing Award. “It is with great joy I bring this play to be read in the land of its inception.” – Danai Gurira
“What Happens When Culture and Faith Collide?” “It’s 1895 when the convert, a teenage girl named Jekesai, is thrust into strange new circumstances that pit Ancient African Traditions against Western Culture and her newfound Christian faith. When conflict erupts across the land who will she become?”
The Convert was commissioned by Center Theater Group and premiered at McCarter Theater (Director Emily Mann), The Goodman Theater and The Kirk Douglas Theater (CTG). This production of The Convert is presented with the generous support from Center Theater Group, Los Angeles, California, USA. It was also sponsored by Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). The Convert had its African premiere in Harare at Prince Edward High School’s Beit Hall from Dec. 10th to Dec. 24th 2013.
RECEPTION & THANK YOUS
Thank you very much for taking photographs with my cousin and I after a screening of ‘The Convert’, which I enjoyed so much that I came back with one of my mum’s friends and watched it again. It was a play that transcended generations and I’m really glad that I was able to enjoy it with people who are my age as well as those who are older than me and were initially kind of skeptical about whether they’d enjoy going to the theatre. My mum’s friend enjoyed it so much but as I took her on the 24th she’s still upset that she didn’t manage to take her husband and her son along. We both hope to see more productions and have been truly inspired by the quality of your art and wish you and the cast all the best in your future endeavours. ‘The Convert’ was a remarkable experience for me. I learnt, reflected, humbled, inspired but also laughed. Please keep up the good work!
CAST & CREW
ON THE BLOG
MY “CONVERT” EXPERIENCE
by Elizabeth R.S Muchemwa
Working on the African premiere of The Convert by Danai Gurira was a deeply worthwhile experience. Each and every job I take on is an opportunity to grow and to learn something new. Before coming on to the job as an Assistant director, some asked me why I was going to take this on since I have been directing for some time and have undergone some training; but seeing director Adam Immerwahr in the rehearsal room with the actors and the stage management team; in production meetings with the technical and production team made me realize another aspect of directing that I had not been able to experience. This confirmed to me that I had made the right decision. I had always wondered what would it be like to have all the personnel that you need when you are making a stage production, because one does not relish being part of a production where as a director you are doing almost everything; that is what I have had to put up with working in Zimbabwe. And coming from that experience I appreciated the importance of a functioning producer, a playwright who is available to answer questions that the actors have concerning the script, a stage manager who is present for all rehearsals and is capable of running the show and technical crew that have had enough meetings with the director, and are deeply familiar with the play and can deliver work that complements the show…
CONVERSATION WITH ADAM Immerwahr
Adam Immerwahr directed “The Convert”
I’ll never forget the first performance of THE CONVERT in Zimbabwe. I had seen American audiences respond to this play in Princeton, Chicago, LA, and Philadelphia. I have probably seen somewhere around 40 performances of the play, and my one night with a Zimbabwean audience was revelatory. Listening to what the Harare audience listened to, responded to, and discovered was thrilling. Scenes that in America function as exposition (where a US audience is learning about Zimbabwean history and the politics of turn of the century Zimbabwe) were transformed into character development in Zimbabwe (where the audience, knowing the history, learned something about the characters from the perspectives that they shared). It was an incredible experience to feel the play take on whole new meaning and resonance, and to watch with such pride as this extraordinary company of Zimbabwean artists brought Danai Gurira’s story to life.
Almasi Collaborative Arts would like to acknowledge the generous support of the many who made it possible for The Convert to be produced in the land of its inception. This project was a wonderful success; it provided a rich cultural exchange, mentorship, training, skills development and above all paid employment for well over 50 Zimbabweans; this is a monumental achievement at a time where Zimbabweans are struggling with up to 80% unemployment and the arts are largely underfunded. We are very grateful for the capacity building and job creation which is taking place in the Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector and it is all made possible because of your generous support.
A heartfelt thank you!
Center Theater Group, Los Angeles, USA
Prince Edward School
Harare International Festival of the Arts
Phoenix Sound and Lighting
Pariah State (Bar and Lounge)
Dr and Mrs Gurira
Mrs Brenda Kahari
Sanjit De Silva
Gale Anne Hurd
IN THE PRESS
‘The Convert’ not to miss
by Stephen Chifunyise, Theater Corridors, Herald, Zimbabwe
Danai Gurira’s “The Convert” that is running at Prince Edward High School’s Beit Hall in Harare until December 24 is a play not to miss. Those Zimbabweans who have complained of lack of local films and plays about the people’s struggle against colonial occupation of this land should not miss this opportunity to watch this play.
“The Convert” vividly deals, in many aspects , with the response of the people of this land to the pioneer column settlers especially those who settled in the place of Harare which the settlers named Salisbury in 1890. “The Convert” is a play for all. Not only is it an eloquent, well researched, well written, gripping and fascinating story about the fires lit in the period of 1895 to bring about the major African uprising against the racist colonial occupation “when the Africans realised that the whites were not leaving but were settling”. It is also a well told story about the birth of the independent African Christian church movement in this land and indeed in the Southern African region.
In 2012 Darlene Donice of the Los Angeles Stage Times quoted New York Times Charles Isherwood who described the play as “an ambitious play, an absorbing new play”. Donice also quoted Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune saw the play as “as a richly complex portrait, blistering acting throughout. Gutsy. Heartfelt”. The producers of the play in Zimbabwe – Almasi Collaborative Arts – have presented the play as “a riveting and thought provoking play that explores inter-woven themes of personal identity and crisis, African culture, Christianity and colonialism”… READ FULL REVIEW