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First theatre indaba a success

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THE theatre sector recently held its first ever national indaba as a sector which took place for three days at the Village Twin Peaks in Gweru last week.

Report by Tinashe Sibanda

The indaba was organised by theatre practitioners Daves Guzha, Cont Mhlanga, Josh Nyapimbi, Daniel Maposa and Raisedon Baya — in conjuction with Norwegian Embassy, Hivos Foundation and Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust

The conference came out of last October’s National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) arts event which was held in Masvingo.

“Theatre is the first sub-sector in the arts to hold its own national indaba and this was the first of its kind by the sector in more than 32 years,” Baya said.

He said the indaba was held to explore how to professionalise the theatre sector, to undertake an audit of existing theatre associations, streamlining and resuscitating some that are seemingly dead and to identify opportunities and threats for the theatre sector and suggest ways of effectively harnessing opportunities while mitigating the threats.

It was also aimed at establishing theatre sector priorities and timelines for achieving the priorities and also to set a tone towards the formulation of a national theatre policy.

“The sector sees the conference as the first bold step to deal with the current challenges prevailing in the sector. Some of the challenges the sector is facing range from the challenges of organisation, of venues, content and stagnation,” Baya said.

He added that there were interesting presentations ranging from a SWOT analysis of the sector itself, a paper on the need for a national theatre policy, media and the arts, and a comparison of the Zimbabwe theatre situation with countries like South Africa that have a professional theatre sector in an effort to benchmark.
Baya said renowned theatre practitioners, media personnel, lawyers and the NACZ made various presentations on theatre.

“The indaba came up with a resolution of establishing a voluntary national regulatory body. A task team made up of Guzha, Mhalnga, Nehemiah Chivandikwa, Florence
Mukanga–Majachani and Nyapimbi was put into place to look at the technicalities of setting up the body,” Baya said.

He said other resolutions included the strengthening of existing national associations with focus on the Zimbabwe Theatre Association, Zimbabwe Association of Theatre for Children and Young People and the International Theatre Institute and conducting an audit/inventory of theatre venues and spaces and make recommendations as to what needs to be done to uplift them to acceptable standards.

Each province was encouraged to conduct its own inventory.

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