BIG things are happening at the recently launched Zimbabwe Theatre Academy (ZITA).
I dropped in at one of their workshops held at Reps Theatre on Wednesday last week. It was inspiring to see ZITA director, Lloyd Nyikadzino, teaching his students together with a group from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the core components of physical theatre.
These include communicating with the audience without necessarily speaking, creating narratives using body language and making full use of the space available when performing without destructing the rest of the cast.
However, what intrigued me the most is that Nyikadzino is using the platform to train the students a new form of theatre, Early Years Theatre.
“This workshop is training students the core elements of physical theatre. Besides that, we are also teaching them a new form of theatre in Africa, which is Early Years Theatre. This is theatre done by professionals but targeting seven-year-old children and below,” said Nyikadzino.
“There are only two African countries that have started working on productions around Early Years Theatre and these are Nigeria and South Africa. So we are excited to be kick-starting the initiative in Zimbabwe.”
He added that he has already been to some provinces of Zimbabwe training novices in theatre about it. He is hoping to take it to the rest of the country through a robust partnership with the Zimbabwe German Society (ZGS).
“We are going to work on productions for the young children next year. We will select the best three productions from all the provinces we would have covered this year and from there we build solid productions, which will be staged around the country.
“Let me hasten to say that we are aiming to entertain the children and not necessarily educate them. It is not every time that children want to be educated. At times they just want good quality entertainment and that is what we are going to be offering them,” he added.
Nyikadzino highlighted that having UZ students at the workshop helps to accelerate the growth of the new theatre form.
“Having these first year UZ students as part of our workshop is a good way of growing the new theatre form. I am hopeful that when the students go back to school, they will develop the skills they would have acquired from this experience and come up with their own productions targeting children,” highlighted Nyikadzino.
In July this year, ZGS staged a theatre production for children called “Sandscape”. The play has been performed in Cape Town, Angola, and Rwanda.
Speaking on the play Nyikadzino said, “‘Sandscape’ is a silent theatrical piece that embraces the beauty and essence of nature and evokes the visual, hearing and rhythmic abilities that gets you transfixed with the aid of sand as its major tool.
“The original concept was developed by Joshua Alabi, Chipo Basopo, Joy AkrahIt and myself during the Goethe Institute Early Years Theatre training at Magnet Theatre, Cape Town.
“When it came here, we invited kindergarten children and they loved it. So l am positive that there is a market for this theatre form.”
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