The Sunday Mail
Takudzwa Chihambakwe —
AS the quality of local theatre productions declines due to various challenges, the Zimbabwe chapter of the International Theatre Institute has responded by launching a theatre academy.
The Sunday Mail Leisure spoke to the global co-ordinator of the International Theatre Institutes’s Young Practitioner Committee, Lloyd Nyikadzino, about the landmark move.
“I believe the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy will be an important national launch pad for new theatre makers. The primary focus of this one-year actor training project is to identify talent with true potential and provide them with specialist training. This experience will strengthen skills of the young theatre professionals, and also create new contemporary Zimbabwean theatre makers,” said Nyikadzano.
He said the academy was targeting candidates aged between 18 and 35 who were having problems getting placement for theatre studies at existing institutions of higher learning.
“The academy offers professional theatre development for young people who have challenges in being absorbed into theatre training at institutions of higher learning. Some have educational difficulties from their schooling and don’t make the required university entrance grade. Others struggle with funding, yet they have remarkable creative talent and are wholly dedicated to the craft.
“The objective of the actor-training is to provide an investigation and performance centre for professional holistic ensemble training in the craft and discipline of acting in Zimbabwe.
“Targeted participants should be aged between 18 and 35, interested in theatre as a profession, and be up for the physical rigours associated with serious, hands-on exploration. The duration of training is one year from August 2017 to July 2018 in Harare. A maximum of 10 spots are available,” he said.
The programme will initially be administered from Harare and candidates will be able to access bursaries for their relocation to the capital city through a relationship with one of ITI’s partners, Pamberi Trust.
All 10 students will get a full scholarship from Pamberi Trust.
Nyikadzino called for more partners to come on board to support the academy saying, “The strategic support of the Zimbabwe theatre sector through a comprehensive actor training programme is strongly recommended.
“Supporting the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy will assist in the professionalisation and resuscitating of quality theatre practice and products in Zimbabwe by building up the skills base in Zimbabwe, the long-term goal will develop a group of local professionals who can support, mentor and impart their skills to fellow Zimbabweans, diminishing the need to seek expertise and resources from outside Zimbabwe.
“This will develop, promote and support new voices and also create an avenue for employment creation. This project will contribute significantly to the vibrancy and sustainability of theatre and theatre industries in Zimbabwe and the Sadc region. With the lack of formal training institutions in Zimbabwe, it is important to continue to support and nurture young talent and afford them the opportunities that come through the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy,” he added.
The ITI Zimbabwe chapter, which has been in operation since 2010, last year initiated four national capacity building workshops, a one-hour pilot documentary on Zimbabwean theatre, offered 115 free tickets to disadvantaged groups of people who have never been to a theatre before, and assisted in the fundraising for a student who was going on a theatre educational international exchange.
All activities were fully supported by Mohamed Saif Al Afkham, the president of ITI Worldwide and the director-general of Fujairah Culture and Media Authority.
“The four workshops, which enhanced the skills and knowledge of the targeted young theatre practitioners in three provinces, Harare, Masvingo and Karoi were in scriptwriting, arts management and acting.
“They were aimed at contributing to the realisation of a professional creative Zimbabwe that is appreciative, supportive and respectful of theatre as an effective tool of free expression that contributes to the transformation of communities.
“The Zimbabwe centre of ITI has and will continue to facilitate professional discussions and talks concerning the state of Zimbabwean theatre, the role of theatre in society, the best practices and recommendations to practitioners,” said Nyikadzino.