Theatre breaks ground with new academy

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
Zimbabwe’S first ever Theatre Academy is here. Training will be conducted at Harare’s Reps Theatre facilitated by the International Theatre Institute Zimbabwe Centre and its many partners, chief among them the United States’ Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.

“We are excited that our dream as the International Theatre Institute Zimbabwe Centre has been set in motion,” said ITI Zimbabwe co-ordinator, Lloyd Nyikadzino.

“In the past three years ITI Zimbabwe has been sending one theatre practitioner to participate in training programmes held at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in America but we then decided to bring the trainings home so that more theatre practitioners are trained at one go.”

The training targets underprivileged people who have insufficient funds to get formal coaching, and those without requisite academic qualifications to be enrolled formally but have passion for the art.

The theatre academy, which was officially launched last week, has 10 students who will be trained for a year during which they will stage productions.

Students will also embark on outreach programmes, mainly to rural areas, to share knowledge in a bid to spread theatre across Zimbabwe.

Reps Theatre chairperson Sue Bolt said the academy had long been a missing link in local theatre.

“Reps Theatre has always wanted to do this but lack of funding and teaching personnel for the programme has been our challenge. So when ITI Zimbabwe approached us for a partnership, were more than eager to come on board as we believe this will go a long way in improving our theatrical productions in the country,” said Bolt.

Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre’s Lauren Wilson — who is in Zimbabwe to train teachers for the pioneering 10 students — added: “I am quite happy with the standard of theatre in this country. I have realised that Zimbabweans have theatre flowing from within them and that makes the task of training physical theatre much easier.”

Zimbabwe Theatre Academy chairperson Zain Lucas expressed satisfaction with the gender balance among the students. “The first crop of artistes that we will be working with is showing passion and agility to work. We have five ladies and five gentlemen who were selected from a series of auditions and I am happy with the balance we have. The programme is going to be intense, stretching from Monday to Friday,” she said.

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