A Conversation with AneUnhu Gwatidzo: Talking Heartbreak Mafia & Zimbabwean Theatre

Heartbreak Mafia, the modern musical theatre comedy will be returning for a special limited run this week. The production is coming back for 4 shows on the back of earning 3 nominations at the NAMA Awards. 

There's going to be a 7 pm show on the 16th, 17th and 18th of March, with the 18th having another show at 2:30 pm. All being at Reps Theatre Upstairs.

A Conversation with AneUnhu Gwatidzo

One night in an "artisanal" bar and one day in a quirky courtroom. The Heartbreak Mafia is a music revue centred on the theme of love. We find our characters chasing down love, running from love, falling in and out of love, making (non)sense of love and justifying their actions in the name of love. Told through songs about love, new and old!

The show features a talented with some established names (in alphabetical order):

Act Muronzi

Anesu Lioga

AneUnhu Gwatidzo

Bobby Morgan

Chiwoneso Mvududu

Dalma Diamond

Elvis Chikiwa

Min'enhle Mguni

Shaun Mundawarara

We caught up with the production's NAMA-nominated director, AneUnhu Gwatidzo for a conversation about the show.

What was the inspiration behind Heartbreak Mafia?

I met with these three young guys during a show called Jesus Christ Superstar in 2021. In that cast, they earned the nickname The Mafia as we would often "catch" them singing in beautiful three-part harmony and frequently in private. They are great singers and have sung in a few shows at my behest, often in supporting roles. I felt they deserved a show of their own so we went about building a show around them. That eventually turned into Heartbreak Mafia.

How was the show received during the initial run last year?

It was received better than we expected. A review was written by Maria Wilson who is the Executive Director of HIFA. She said our show was "fresh with an overwhelming sincerity." We closed to a sold-out audience. And that's run that earned us the NAMA nominations!

How did it feel when your show got 3 nominations?

We felt quite surprised but once we got over that I'd say humbled and excited.

How do you feel about the current state of Zimbabwean Theatre? ie it's doing well, it's on the rise or facing certain challenges etc.

I hesitate to comment on the state of Zimbabwean theatre at large because I work in just a few spaces. However, I would say all of those things are true based on my experiences. I feel creativity and innovation are on a major rise despite the challenges I think we all face in getting the audiences and funders that we would hope for.

What would say to someone on the fringes about attending one of Heartbreak Mafia's showings this week?

We're giving it everything we've got. Plus there's comedy. Come and see why it was considered one of the most outstanding productions in the country! Plus the bar is cheap. The stories on the stage are stories you've lived and witnessed. The wins, draws and losses of the game of love. Plus there's music! Vocals AND bars!

A Conversation with AneUnhu Gwatidzo

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