On July 29, 2017, Almasi presented a staged reading of Widows by Ariel Dorfman at the Zimbabwe German Society. Both novice and experienced actors participated in the reading, directed by Elizabeth Zaza Muchemwa. The reading was part of the Almasi’s tent-pole Staged Reading Series.

Ariel Dorfman’s play, Widows, is about a political protest in a country ruled by a military junta. They play was written in collaboration with playwright Tony Kushner (the author of Angels in America) and is based on Dorfman’s 1983 novel of the same name. Widows was first presented by the Traverse Theatre Company at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1997, however an even earlier version of the play was first performed at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 1991. What is remarkable is that Dorfman’s words carry as much weight now as they did then, as the impact of the reading was tremendous for both our actors, as well as the audience. In the play, a brutal conflict has come to an end, with the ruling class victorious and the military in firm control. In a country village, women await news of the fate of dozens of men taken captive by the army, supposedly for being involved in the rebellion or for holding dissident views. However, the only sign of the lost is a corpse that floats down the river one day. Decomposing and disfigured by torture, the faceless man is claimed by Sofia Fuentes, an older woman who has lost a father, husband and two sons to the violence.



Caroline Mashingaidze
Musa Saruro
Charmaine Mujeri
Kevin Hanssen
Joy Chipidza
Anthony Tongani
Thobekile Sibanda
Takudzwa Matinenga

Director | Elizabeth Zaza Muchemwa
Stage Manager | Prudence Kalipinde
Operations Manager | Kudakwashe Kanembirira
Reader | Chelsy Maumbe






I Learned to Quiet My Fears

Directing the staged reading of Widows was a satisfactory process for me. My understanding of the play grew the more time I spent in the rehearsal room, seeing the play in the actors’ eyes as they engaged with the theme and issues dealt with in the play. Choosing to work on Widows was not an easy decision to make. In this multi-layered dramatic piece whose issues are as universal as they are specific to a particular part of the world, I worried about the possibilities of leaning too close to the experience of others in my community especially in the post reading discussions and whether I was equipped with the skills on how to navigate such a delicate terrain. However, with each rehearsal day, as the actors shared ideas and new discoveries were made, I learned to quiet my fears. What struck me the most about Widows was Sofia’s strength and the collective power the women found in speaking with one voice in a society that was ruled by brute force. Using symbolism and representation, the playwright unpacks war, exile, inequality, militarism and totalitarianism. And through this effort enabled the play to speak of brutalized childhood, the endlessness of time, the uneasy relationship people have with peace post a brutal conflict and the cyclical nature of injustice when not addressed. While the play tells one about human suffering and the dehumanization of a society by war, it serves as a beacon of hope for people still living in societies governed by fear.