My phone buzzed to alert me that 27 March is World Theatre Day and the first thing that came to mind was Amakhosi Theatre, then Chipawo and Kapfupi. These are my earliest links to theatre in general, everything that I learnt and fell in love with emanates from these three, among others. I never had the privilege to join drama in primary school but would use whatever opportunity I have to go and watch a play or two. Chipawo always got me glued on the television set and up to now Theatre plays are my favourite parts of the Intwasa Arts Festival program. All this is because the stories told are relateable on a personal level and invite a dialogue on a social level basis with family, friends and community.
Like other forms of creative art like music, literature, drawing, etc., theatre plays a huge role in safeguarding a particular narrative and sharing it with other people across borders. Furthermore, theatre presents the advantage of telling a story in raw format, making it very relateable to a people. Next time someone asks about Zimbabwe and the current socio-political status (for example), instead of suggesting a book or a song, take them to a theatrical play for answers. A narrative is not going to present and push itself, there are forces working behind the narrative to make sure the message spreads across board. Special mention goes to Mr Raisedon Baya, whose efforts are so obvious you just cannot miss them. His theatre plays echo Stellar Adler’s words:
The word theatre comes from Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.
Just last week he, together with other arts creatives, premiered a theatre play titled FRAGILE, A beautiful story about twins separated by some unfortunate circumstance and brought back together by another unfortunate circumstance. Some familiar names I could tag along include Cont Mhlanga, Memory Kumbota, Daves Guzha, Witness Tavarwisa, among others, whose efforts are propelling the narrative through theatre to greater strengths. Special mention also goes to the likes of Mgcini Nyoni who through his lens, documents these amazing moments.
Good news the National Arts Council collaborated with other arts organisations and initiatives across Zimbabwe to showcase as much theatre plays and workshops to the public, a bulk of them free! This is an opportunity to go and check out a couple of venues, guaranteed to fall in love with theatre. Imagine if the same numbers that flock to movie houses could make their way to auditoriums for theatres? If you are in Bulawayo make sure you head to Matshobana Hall for the ‘Look. Listen, and Decide’ & ‘The Naked Truth’ plays presented by the Bambelela Arts Ensemble featuring Ezimnyama Arts Ensemble. In Harare head over to Theatre in the park and other local community halls that show plays. Let’s support local stories first before exporting them beyond borders.
[Slider image | Raisedon Baya’s Fragile play | photo credits: Mgcini Nyoni]