Zim Theatre Academy commits to uplift talent

Thus, theatre is instrumental in advancing freedom of expression which enables people to freely express themselves in different communities.

THEATRE undoubtedly plays an important role in people’s lives, by not only providing entertainment, but also creating a platform for engagement, debates and questioning of critical issues affecting society.

Thus, theatre is instrumental in advancing freedom of expression which enables people to freely express themselves in different communities.

For some years the local theatre sector has, however, been facing serious challenges that have resulted in reduced activity, particularly in mainstream theatre.

Despite such challenges, Zimbabwe Theatre Academy, established by multi-award-winning theatre professional Lloyd Nyikadzino to professionalise theatre in the country, has been on the forefront of nurturing and empowering young theatre creatives.

The academy, accredited by the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry, started its first physical theatre training programme in October 2017 at Reps Theatre in Belgravia, Harare, with only 10 students.

It appears its efforts and commitment to excellence and innovative storytelling has not gone unnoticed if its three nominations at the forthcoming National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) are anything to go by.

The Namas, the most prestigious awards presented annually by the arts mother body, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), are meant to recognise outstanding achievements in the arts sector.

The academy’s nominations are Outstanding Theatre Director (for Lloyd Nyikadzino), Outstanding Theatre Actress (for Nosizo Gumede who plays Runyararo in I AM/WAS MARAH ) a student of the academy and Outstanding Theatrical Production for the play I AM/WAS MARAH written by Teddy Mangawa.

The 22nd edition of the Nama awards ceremony is on this Saturday at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo under the theme #Kwan22.

The academy’s founder and executive director Nyikadzino told NewsDay Life & Style that the nomination indicates that their work is being recognised, adding that they were committed to training and empowering young people.

“We have been training young people who are interested in avoiding the repetition of old stories and narratives. Our aim is to provide these young individuals with an opportunity to professionally share their own stories,” he said.

“We are honoured by the nominations which recognise our work. It is the energy of these young people that has enabled us to create a national-level product, proving that visions are achievable with hard work.”

Speaking on the I AM/WAS MARAH play, Mangawa said it explored the aftermath of Zimbabwean elections, division among people, the importance of personal development, forgiveness and unity for societal healing.

“The play challenges individuals to develop themselves, forgive and overcome selfishness to prevent loss of lives. It addresses tribal and religious issues, emphasising unity despite gender. It also aims to heal society, recognising that politics is dividing people,” he noted.

Gumede, an alumnus of the academy said her nomination was a divine affirmation that she was on the right path.

“The Nama nomination motivates and encourages me to work hard especially during moments of self-doubt. Although the nomination is still fresh, it has significantly enhanced my curriculum vitae and I pray that it will bring forth many positive opportunities,” she said.

The play’s production manager Ronald “Madolax” Sigeca said he was responsible for leading the process and ensuring that everything aligned with the production’s vision and goals.

“I provided mentorship and guided the team in the right direction. It was a rollercoaster ride, as I constantly identified the needs of the show and ensured it met commercial market standards,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Nama adjudicators committee chairperson, mbira songbird Hope Masike, said a total of 1 280 entries were received for the pending awards for works that covered the period December 1st, 2022, to November 30, 2023.

The submissions comprised 824 physical and 456 online entries and the nominees were nominated based on submitted entries as well as those identified by individual and institutional monitors appointed to track excelling artists throughout the year.

The music category had the highest number of submissions recording 321 entries followed by visual arts with 300 submissions, film and television (247), literary arts (149), dance (147), theatre (71) and spoken word (45).

Masike said the entries came from the country’s 10 provinces with the highest number of submissions coming from Bulawayo province.

The awards adjudicators noted that in the music segment, the year was exceptional with numerous singles and albums released, however, of concern was the reduced activity from outside Harare province.

“The adjudicators would like to encourage artistes from outside Harare province to actively take part in submitting their works for consideration. The quality of music videos continues on an upward trend due to increased investment in better equipment, sets, storylines and concepts for their videos and general entertainment value of the product,” she said.

“All submissions that came through from all Nama collection points were received and duly reviewed. A rigorous process of shortlisting entries for final consideration was done by the adjudicators. Observations made by adjudicators showed that standards varied across the categories of submitted works,” she said.

“Across the various categories adjudicators made the following key observations, in dance, the adjudicators were pleased with the quality of entries as it portrayed improvement and a continued desire to push boundaries in terms of choreography and presentation.

“It was noted, however, that most of the submissions were very amateurish and lacked originality. Poor picture quality, clips that were too short and a lack of proper identification of the dance being considered worked against some of the categories.”

Masike further noted that in spoken word, the submissions were generally of very good picture and sound quality, however, adjudicators were concerned with the low number of entries in stand-up comedy, an indication that the art form is perhaps losing its vibrancy.

She said the adjudicators were impressed with the high number of literary arts submissions.

“This year had notable improvements in the overall quality of the books such as better proofreading and editing, book covers and stories. It was observed that there were good publications in Shona and Ndebele and also very impressive non-fictional books.

“Submissions were from writers of diverse backgrounds, however there were publishers whose works appeared rushed because their books had way too many errors,” Masike added.

From the list of the awards nominees, multi-award-winning singer, Jah Prayzah, dancehall musician Enzo Ishall, hip-hop star Saintfloew, comedian Theophilus “Mai Kirifodhi” Chigumira, choreographers Terence Kapesa and Sean Mambwere are leading the pack with more than a single nomination.

Jah Prayzah’s track Chiremerera has been nominated in the Outstanding Song and under the Outstanding Album categories.

Enzo Ishall has been nominated as Outstanding Male Musician while his song Bhebhi Rako Raroorwa is vying for honours under the Outstanding Song category.

Chitungwiza-bred singer Saintfloew born (Tawanda Mambo) has been nominated for the Outstanding Male Musician with his duet One by One that features Julian King having been nominated for the Outstanding Song and in the People’s Choice Category.

In the People’s Choice Category, the Silas Mavende singer battles for honours with crowd favourite and the Ninja president Winky D (Wallace Chirumiko), hip-hop sensations Voltz JT (Nkosinathi Sibiya) and Holy Ten (Mukudzei Chitsama) as well as comedian Mai Kirifodhi.

Mambwere and Kapesa have been nominated in Outstanding Male Dancer and Outstanding Dance Choreographer categories.

The comedian Mai Kirifodhi has also received a nomination under the Outstanding Social Media Skit and in the People’s Choice category.

Related Topics