And Crocodiles Are Hungry At Night
adapted by Kate Stafford from the memoir by Jack Mapanje
"Tell the police. But if the police do nothing, I put you above the police. And crocodiles are hungry at night"
Malawi in the 1980s was a dangerous place. People disappeared. Even President Banda's cabinet were not safe. Banda ordered his Young Pioneers to act against anyone who opposed the president.
And Crocodiles Are Hungry At Night is an adaptation of award-winning poet Jack Mapanje's prison memoir of the same name. In 1987, Jack Mapanje, then a little-known academic, linguist and poet, was imprisoned without charge at Mikuyu prison in Malawi. Despite an international outcry led by Amnesty International and supported by many writers and artists including Wole Soyinka, Harold Pinter and Ronald Harwood, he remained there for 3 years, 7 months, 16 days and more than 12 hours. He was never told why. This is his story. It is a story bursting with hope and humour, and the extraordinary people who survived President Hastings Kamuzu Banda's attempts to silence his opponents. Living with the threat of death by a car 'accident' or being thrown into the crocodile-infested Shire River, Jack Mapanje and his fellow prisoners of conscience survived the dreadful conditions with a spirit of optimism and humanity, which is both uplifting and extraordinary.
Everything in this play is true.
And Crocodiles Are Hungry At Night the prison memoir is published by Ayebia Clarke publishing, and launched in 2011 at an event hosted by Amnesty International.
Directed by Kate Stafford
Company Stage Manager (UK) - Kala Njie Simpson
Lighting Designer (UK) - Charlie Morgan Jones
Developed in partnership with Nanzikambe Arts, Malawi
With special thanks to Ayebia Clark Publishing Ltd
"The rhythm is jagged and fast, the staging rough. Violence jostles with laughter; routine degradation interweaves with illicit love letters and Mapanje's elegiac verse. The ensemble is vibrant and muscular ... the sum of the whole is raw and vital. You can smell the Mikuyu jail from your seat."
"Misheck Mzumara's depiction of Mapanje flashes with a desperate, earnest charm ... A play that is poetry, drama and history lesson combined, this is a frank presentation of the fate many prisoners shared in Malawi through one man's experiences, which bursts into moments of shocking frustration and touching humanity."
"the sound and lighting are effective and the performances bold. The conditions in jail - maggots in the porridge and "big jobs" banned at night out of consideration for fellow inmates - are powerfully captured and the growing camaraderie is evoked in jubilant eruptions of song and dance"
Angella Ching'amba (UK)
Dipo Katimba (Malawi)
Jafali Amadu Mussa
Aaron Ngolande Nhlane