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                                                       MLANJENI MAGICAL THEATER

                                                    "Little plays for little people in your center's spaces"

    Re-established  in 1988, Mlanjeni Magical Theater is dedicated to providing positive entertainment to young audiences in pre- and nursery schools, kindergartens and early elementary grades.  Utilizing a form of East African theater called "Muungamano," the presentations  are  "little plays"  with lots of audience participation.  Themes vary with the seasons, but all the "little plays"  feature puppets, magical illusions, folk music and dance presented by a master storyteller.  Mlanjeni Magical Theater is a touring theater. Presentations are performed in the  schools or centers, usually in the storytime circle. Presentations  for toddlers are normally 20 - 30 minutes, while all other presentations are a standard  45 minutes.  Prices for performances are based on size of the audience and travel time.

       K. M. Nduma founded Mlanjeni Magical Theater in 1975 in central Pennsylvania. Following a family tradition of storytelling and music, Nduma, an early childhood teacher, saw a need for a more focused theater experience for young audiences. "In the U.S. commercial presentations for children whether movies, or shows are generally done under the guise of  'family entertainment.'  In this guise the writer, director and actor  feel the need to entertain adults as well as children, thus many speeches or actions are actually inappropriate for the young,"  explains Nduma. "At home in east Africa, a storyteller would never mix an adult story with a children's story... a story must be age-appropriate. "  The Mlanjeni Magical Theater 's  "little plays"  include stories of the rabbit, the dog, the cat, the lion, as well as stories of history.  Themes include lessons on manners, safety, friendship, holidays and many others.  Nduma's most popular  presentation comes from the district of Kilimanjaro along with his "dragon" puppet  Ijangayanga.

       The Amazing Mr. Q (a/k/a  Marquez Efferson)  has been a part of Mlanjeni Magical Theater  since 1991 when he reached his 11th birthday. The son of K.M. Nduma, he began his performing career as a box carrier.  Setting up the props, and the stage areas, he watched and learned the manipulation of puppets, magic and the songs and dances.  Upon graduating high school, Efferson began his solo career  in Mlanjeni Magical Theater.  Adding a modern American element to the dances and stories,  The Amazing Mr. Q is  most popular for his "stories with a beat" and  his  ever-funny   " off-beat "  puppet  pet  cat,  Momo. "A lot of today's problems come from pushing our children too far and too fast,"  explains  Efferson, "They learn technology at home, but don't learn simple things like how to play.  I've seen five year-olds who can use a tablet, but don't know how to play imaginatively with an empty box. We show imaginative play in action in our shows."