Gifford High sweeps stage at drama fest

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
STUDENTS from Gifford High School shone as they scooped top accolades at the inaugural Doug Hill Schools Drama Festival at Charles Austin Theatre in Masvingo recently.

Faced with intense rivalry from 12 schools, Gifford High School bagged awards for Best Production, Best Cameo, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Costume.

Eveline High School scooped the Best Director Award and their play was first runner up, whilst Pamushana High School was second runner up and also bagged the accolade for Best Technical Play.

Other awards went to Masvingo Christian College for the Best Achievement, while Glenview High School won the Best Supporting Actress award.

Festival director Khetani Banda described the festival as a “resounding success”.

“I hope that this festival will provide constructive outlets for youths and their creative life and transformative long-term opportunities, for self-expression and professional development. Next year the Doug Hill Schools Festival will also include pre-schools, primary schools and tertiary institutions,” said Banda.

He lauded acts from Gifford and Eveline saying: “The performances of Gifford and Eveline were outstanding. No wonder they took eight out of 11 awards. Their plays were well structured, their stage management was perfect while experimental and the acting was just breath-taking.

“I think this is because sector-wise the arts are taken very seriously in Matabeleland, even from primary and high school levels. This is something that Masvingo has to look into, especially now since the arts have been incorporated into the new curriculum.”

Though the acts from most of the schools were impressive, Banda noted that there is need for schools to engage professional theatre practitioners to assist in honing the students’ skills.

“I think the important thing is to let professionals assist teachers in charge in the arts classes. Eveline, for instance, had this arrangement with its theatre club and you can tell the impact on the quality of their work. The moment teachers in charge of the arts in their schools work with artistes in the sector, practicality will be brought into the picture.”

Banda and his team are set to hold workshops with the schools that participated at the festival to empower them on the basics of theatre.

“We are currently discussing seasonal workshops with the schools that participated at this festival. We will focus on training for drama patrons so that they are well endowed in the art of theatre before the knowledge goes down to the students.

“The workshops are slated for November and will cover scriptwriting, pre-production expertise, acting and characterisation, and play directing. Some schools have already approached us. They want us to help them with directors for their drama clubs starting from when schools reopen for the third term.”

Special guests at the fest were Masvingo Mayor Cllr Hubert Fidze, theatre guru Doug Hill and Masvingo provincial arts officer Jeff Warara. Participating schools included Eveline High, Victoria High, Gifford High, Shingirirayi, Dewure, Mucheke, Mapanzure, Hippo Valley, Mutendi, Masvingo Christian College, Glen View High, Rufaro and Pamushana.

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