bilimankhwe Theatre


The Tempest

by William Shakespeare

This pared-down, intense, urban production of Shakespeare’s last play features the stunning contemporary African dance choreography of Shyne Phiri. It is powerful, passionate, and of course magical. By bringing together artists from Africa and Europe, the company uses the best from both continents to both entertain and move the audience.

The play is about patriarchy, colonialism and power: it is not about race, which is made clear by the casting of a multi-racial cast of native English speakers for Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand, Trinculo and Stephano, while Caliban and Ariel are Malawian, and native Chichewa speakers. As a colonist who has grown up on the island, Miranda speaks mostly in English but occasionally in Chichewa (for instance when she is berating Caliban).

Full of humour, magic, movement and music, the show is fast paced, urban and exciting. Using simple and effective technology it will appeal to a diverse audience; young and old will see something new, vibrant and exciting in this production.


Bilimankhwe Arts was set up in 2006 by Kate Stafford and Gideon Kagoya. The first project was After Mikuyu, working with the poet Jack Mapanje in partnership with Ovalhouse. At that time Bilimankhwe also ran a Young Company (BYC) which ran for five years working on new writing for young people in Haringey in North London, participating in the National Theatre's New Connections programme four times, devising new work and creating films.

In 2008 the second stage of our collaboration with Jack Mapanje saw a rehearsed reading of The President's Tobacco at The Young Vic as part of International PEN's Free the Word! Festival on London's South Bank [the picture at the top of the page shows actors Anniwaa Buachie and Dave Fishley during rehearsals]. Our collaboration with our partners in Malawi, Nanzikambe, has been the mainstay of our work and we continue to develop joint productions with them and other international partners