On July 29, 2017, Almasi presented a staged reading of Widows by Ariel Dorfman at the Zimbabwe German Society. Both new and experienced actors participated in the reading, directed by Elizabeth Zaza Muchemwa. The staged reading is part of the Almasi Staged Reading series.

Ariel Dorfman’s play Widows is about a political protest in a country ruled by a military junta. It was written in collaboration with playwright Tony Kushner (the author of Angels in America), and based on Dorfman’s 1983 novel of the same name. The play was first presented by the Traverse Theatre Company at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on 5 March 1997 (an earlier version of the play was first performed at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in July 1991). 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 dozens of men taken captive by the army, supposedly for being involved in the rebellion or for holding dissident views. But 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. A soldier in charge of keeping the peace in the area fears that if she is allowed to claim the body, uncomfortable questions will be raised about the man’s death. He burns it in secret. When the river gives up another body, it is claimed by all the widows of the town as a protest against the army’s refusal to answer questions about the whereabouts of their men.



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.