Sierra Leone’s internationally acclaimed theater group, ‘Freetong Players’ will start the commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade (1807-2007), on Tuesday with an ‘Amistad’ variety concert at the British Council auditorium.
The ‘Amistad’ variety concert which will feature musicians, poets, dramatist and story tellers will be climaxed with Charlie Haffner’s (leader of the group) landmark play: ‘Amistad Kata Kata’.
On the uniqueness of the ‘Amistad Kata Kata’ Mr Haffner explained “…for the first time we have assembled an international cast of Africans, Americans and Europeans, in order to give a true reflection of the real players in the great historic episode.”
Mr Haffner disclosed that the play “is being directed by Master 2T (his son).”
Looking smart in his colourful African print shirt, with his tiny reading glasses perched precariously on his nose Charlie Haffner explained, “we are staging Amistad Kata Kata … to wake up the sleeping lion of the performance heritage of this country’s arts theatre.”
He explained, “after writing this play as my African Studies dissertation on the subject: Anthropology of Arts and National Consciousness, and staging it in May 1988 at the British Council hall, under the grand patronage of the then British Council Director, Mrs Theresa Koroma the play has been sleeping.”
Tilting his head and adjusting his dreadlocks, he said, “whether or not the commemoration of the abolition, Freetong Players would still have come up with this play, for it has been long over due.”
Explaining the plot of the play, Mr Haffner said, ‘Amistad Kata Kata’ is about heroism- about a man who made history of histories by being the unknown leader of the only group of compatriots, who were taken across the Atlantic to become slaves, who revolted, fought to their death, were arrested, incarcerated, charged to court, tried, freed and physically returned home after 3 years.”
The play, he said, “is about a Salone man of great courage worth emulating, simply because he believed he was not born to be a slave and would rather die fighting.”
On the hero, Sengbe Pieh’s action, he said, “had a white man done it, it would be glorious, they would have immortalized him.”
For his part ‘Master 2T’ the Artistic Director, of Amistad Kata Kata explained, “I’m going to give the play a modern touch.”
He continued, “it is going to be different from the earlier staged version ‘Amistad Kata Kata’, this time around, the play is going to have sound tracks and effects,” adding that the dancing is going to be choreography, and the costumes are going to be unique.
Mater 2T explained that in the near future he would love to adapt Amistad Kata Kata to a movie and give the African interpretation of the event.
He pointed out that he has no intention of correcting American film director, Spielberg’s Amistad movie even though certain information were distorted, “they acted the movie based on how they interpreted the event,” 2T said.