The powerful Zimbabwean, US-based nora chipaumire will present at Short Theatre the European premiere of her latest creation: Nehanda, a modular performative project. Conceived as an opera, the eighth chapter will be staged at Teatro Argentina. chipaumire‘s artistic practise – poised between art and activism – investigates the nature of the performing black body through a transfeminist approach; it forces attitudes with a counter-hegemonic method, it criticizes the forms of neo-colonial power using in-presence relationships as a tool to question racial and gender stereotypes with respect to non-white and non-Eurocentric cultural imageries.
chipaumire continues to explore the imagery of her country, focusing on myths and revisiting registers and literary styles of the Western operatic repertoire. Conceived as a musical theatre opera, NEHANDA investigates the legend of a powerful spirit venerated by the Shona people, native of Zimbabwe and central Mozambique. The spirit Nehanda inhabits only women. At the end of the XIX century, Nehanda’s medium was Charwe Nyakasikana, a heroic revolutionary leader who coordinated the first insurrections in British-occupied South Rhodesia in 1896-97. She was captured with four comrades and, after a summary trial, the colonizers executed her and sent her skull and bones to the United Kingdom.
The libretto is based on the well-known court case The Queen vs. Nehanda (1898) between two sovereigns Nehanda – mhondoro – “lion spirit” and Queen Victoria, whose long and glorified reign witnessed the rise and expansion of the British Empire in the world.
In this immersive performance participants can collectively investigate the law-making process and its crucial role in the European colonial project.
NEHANDA is co-realized by Teatro di Roma – Teatro Nazionale, within the Grandi Pianure programme with the support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Rome.