Last week over 350 people attended theatre performance Bunker of Zion at the iconic Wigan Pier venue. The event was organised by The Old Courts who are currently the lead partner in a national collective of arts organisations called the Collaborative Touring Network.
The show featured music that had been masterfully created by artist John Pfumojena using traditional Zimbabwe Mbira and Marimba instruments; audiences enjoyed joyful, bouncing rhythms and powerful songs.
There was also traditional and modern Zimbabwean dance with break dance and gumboot dance (a traditional South African dance performed in wellington boots, also referred to as gumboots). The stage show premiered at the iconic Wigan Pier for an exclusive three nights and will now be followed by a national tour.
John Pfumojena created the show in collaboration with two other Zimbabwean artists, Tawanda Mapanda and Kudzanai Chikowe. The three also worked alongside Wigan Borough based charitable organisation Everything Human Rights and Wiganers Esnath Sanangura, Joyce Josiah, Daria Florea, Nadine Mudzvova, Jayden Nyakudya, Tabeth Mabiza & Maria Lowe.
“What a fabulous night! Great entertainment, well organised, and lots of smiles and laughter. Well done to everyone involved.”Councillor Chris Ready
The show has set out to encourage audiences to engage with Zimbabwean culture and to share their own, becoming part of the performance themselves and sharing stories of ancestors. This piece of work aims to disrupt convention and focuses on the importance of places and communities embracing difference.
Reopening for three nights only, this was a unique opportunity to visit the historic venue and to see the essential work that has been done before Wigan Pier officially reopens in the near future. The Old Courts are working in collaboration with Step Places on bringing Wigan Pier back to life for all to enjoy.
“Bunker of Zion was such an amazing success and delivered a powerful message in the most vibrant and engaging way to audiences from near and far. It has been a great experience for all involved! Hearing the fantastic feedback from the audiences has been a great lift following on from the disruption in recent years.David Jenkins, Managing Director at The Old Courts
Credit above all to the Artists, our community members and guest stars who made this show so special, we wish them all the luck with the ongoing national tour. I am sure there will be a powerful legacy of the show and its impact in Wigan and I, and the team, are looking forward to continuing the relationships galvanised through this process.
For anyone who didn’t get the opportunity to see the performances, I would highly recommend looking out for our partner shows nationally, it is definitely worth a visit!”
Visitors also enjoyed an after party, including a live DJ set from Andy Shake’N’Fingerpop and traditional Zimbabwean food by Right Hand Sisters Kitchen.
Bunker of Zion will now continue on a nationwide tour, stopping at Torbay, Peterborough, Thanet, Medway, Bridlington & Gloucester. Associate Artists based in each of the CTN partner locations will be working alongside John Pfumojena and the ensemble, in the same way Farai Nhakaniso has been working in Wigan. Collaborating with John and with their local community, Associate Artists will develop their own creative response to the work that will be incorporated into the show on tour in their location.
CTN is a lifelong, collective mission to do everything possible to make each of the towns and cities listed as part of this collaboration, a better place to be through arts and culture. The Collaborative Touring Network is supported using public funding from Arts Council England.
Find out more at http://ctn.org.uk/
Photography credit – Jen Foto