Byo theatre industry feels economic heat


STAKEHOLDERS in local theatre arts have expressed concern over the fledgling industry as it has also not been spared the economic challenges that bedevil the country.

As the country commemorated World Theatre Day on Wednesday, industry players told Southern Eye Life & Style that the industry was struggling to stay afloat.

World Theatre Day is commemorated every year on March 20.

Umkhathi Theatre Works founder, Matesu Dube said they had failed to hold the official commemorations this year.

“We do celebrate this day, but this year we are not having any celebrations due to the challenges we are experiencing,” he said.

“As theatre in Zimbabwe, like any other sector, we are affected by economic challenges. We are, therefore, yet to reach certain levels because of the
challenges we are facing in the country.”

Dube said schoolchildren were also involved in theatre in Bulawayo.

The Umkhathi Theatre Works founder expressed disquiet at how theatre arts were no longer attractive as more young people had become attracted to social media. Dube said there was now need to use technology to rekindle people’s interest in theatre.
Victory Siyanqoba founder, Desire Moyo, said local theatre was now bed-ridden, although they still commemorated the day.

“We, as Victory Siyanqoba, are celebrating World Theatre Day. This week, we will participate in various platforms and programmes through performances,”
he said.

He said Eziko Theatre Laboratory would be held this month under the theme: Theatre Month.

Iyasa director Nkululeko Innocent Dube said they celebrate the day through involvement in theatre programmes for children and young people.

“The world is a global stage and theatre is one of the best ways to orient young minds. Theatre has grown over the years, especially protest and social theatre,” Dube said.

“We still need to cultivate more theatre for children and young people. We have a serious void in that regard and not many companies or productions are
tailored for children’s theatre in Zimbabwe.”

“Programmes like Isiphiwo, Plan, and CTD have contributed to theatre by young people. We now need to promote young audiences from a tender age. We also need more children-friendly theatre.”

He said the need to cultivate interest in theatre among young people was huge.

“Other countries l have been to even have programmes like Take a Child to a Theatre. It’s not just the responsibility of schools as most of us seem to think. Parents need to be actively involved. It’s a process. Before all that, there needs to be friendly theatre for children from practitioners,” he said.

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