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Theatre practitioners speak on 2021’s highs, lows



AS the year grinds to its end, creatives in the theatre sector have expressed mixed feelings over performances and productions in 2021.

2021 has been stop and starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has continued to choke the industry.

Despite the drawbacks due to the pandemic, some creatives described 2021 as a better year compared to 2020 as they managed to produce and stage productions despite the pandemic.

Daniel Maposa (Savanna Trust and theatre director)

“As a theatre-based organisation, we depend on people gathering. When there are lockdowns, it becomes difficult to do our work. This then affects financial inflows.  However, most of our work was then done on radio.”

“We are growing as an organisation and this is seen by the strides made from one year to another.

“By growth, I mean how we are managing to entrench new ideas, skills, knowledge and artistic assets within the organisation.”

“In this case, I find 2021 pushing us further into a growth trajectory.

“While in 2020 we were heavily affected by COVID-19-induced lockdowns, it was better this year as we managed to do some work, especially in the second half of the year that left a lot of impact in the communities we work in.”

“Artistically, we implemented a lot of new projects that are ground-breaking. We learnt how to work within the environment and strengthened some of the initiatives we started in 2020.

“For example, in 2020, we set up a film unit that saw us producing two documentaries in 2021.”

“In 2021, we managed to facilitate capacity-building programmes for artists in Zimbabwe and Africa that grew our footprint on the continent.”

“In the theatre section, we produced a lot of community plays that engaged people in various social, political and economic issues.

“We did a project on wildlife crimes and conflict in collaboration with Twist Theatre Development Projects from South Africa.

“We also did a lot of pioneering work on climate change awareness, co-organising the Pre-Cop26 civic society dialogue.  We used theatre to strengthen dialogue on climate justice. We also produced Deathbed.”

“We also organised a Sadc boot camp, which trains mid-career creatives in theatre-making and arts management where 15 people from the Sadc region participated.”

“We also launched the first training for female playwrights from the Sadc region, and in 2022, it will be a continent-wide training programme for female playwrights.”

“We did about 40 radio drama episodes around gender, service delivery, accountability, social cohesion and climate change. These were broadcast on various national radio stations.”

“In the film unit, we managed to create two documentaries on wildlife crimes and climate change.

“The documentary on climate change was focusing on Cyclone Idai which is a result of climate change. It will be formally launched in 2022.”

“We also trained theatre artists from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Zambia on using digital media platforms for the production, distribution and consumption of artistic work.”

“In 2022, we will produce another full-length play that strengthens work on climate change and social justice. We will also strengthen the Sadc theatre camp and broaden the female playwrights project.”

“We will also launch our documentary on climate change as well as produce two more documentaries that resonate with the Zimbabwean populace.”

Desire “Moyoxide” Moyo (poet and Victory Siyanqoba director)

“The theatre industry has been greatly affected by the lockdown which was in place for the better part of the year.

“The inconsistency of our government and impromptu governance has disturbed our planning and production works.”

“It has been sad that the only voice from National Arts Council of Zimbabwe has been the tightening of government measures to close creative spaces instead of devising methodologies for the sector to hold shows and continue with the production work.”

“As Victory Siyanqoba, also known as the Community Messengers, we are happy to have been the recipients of the RoilBAA outstanding theatre production award for Bhalagwe is Burning.

“Our voices for people’s rights and freedoms will never be silenced by COVID-19 or ill governance.”

Khaliphile Khally Sibanda (film, theatre writer, director and producer)

“It was a stressful year for theatre as productions were postponed due to COVID-19. We had to postpone our June show which was both good and bad.”

“We held many shows. All our activities were a success as we did big productions such as Musical Sounds, a rendition of Sound Of Music and Misérables, a rendition of Les Misérables. We managed to beat the odds.”

Nkululeko Innocent Dube (Iyasa director)

“The year 2021 was riddled with stop and starts naturally because COVID-19 lockdowns did not spare the sector.

“Remember, it is an industry that thrives on audiences and numbers, but the limitations and curfews made a lot of creatives shy away from producing.”

“When restrictions were relaxed, we saw a surge in activities through festivals and other private and corporate events.”

“This year, our major highlight was an online project we did titled Promoting Virtual Engagement for Creative Resilience in COVID-19, which  was meant to promote creative resilience during COVID-19 times and it went on very well.”

“We also had several live and online shows across the country as we were slowly learning how to manoeuvre in the ‘new normal’, COVID-19 era.

“It was not necessarily an easy year for creatives as we could not travel abroad as usual owing to the pandemic.”

  • Follow Sharon on Twitter @SibindiSharon

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