The Sunday Mail
THE theatre sector in Zimbabwe is experiencing a tough spell caused by low turnouts at shows, lack of quality venues as well as poor cultivation of new audiences.
While some of the problems can be attributed to lack of funding and a tough economic environment, one of the major causes for the struggles experienced by the sector is lack of training. It is difficult for people to keep attending shows that are predictable and lack depth in research as well as thematic variety.
Furthermore, cultivating new audiences requires one to have a compelling product that is not just a linear offering as is the case now.
Realising that there is a gap in the sector with regards to training practitioners to write more exciting stories, Savanna Trust has over the years ensured that they send people for training annually to the Novel Script Master Class training in South Africa.
The Novel Script theatre training programme is conducted by Twist Theatre Development. lt is an annual writer’s residency, which will this year be held in partnership with the Hilton Arts Festival and supported by Prohelvetia in Durban South Africa from September 10 to September 16, 2018.
“As Savanna Trust, we prioritise training because we realise the importance of having practitioners with a professional mind-set,” said programmes officer, Nyasha Chagonda.
“Professionalism in Zimbabwe is dying, so by having practitioners sent to such trainings, they get to know where the rest of the world is and bring back that knowledge home to improve our standards.”
She highlighted that the absence of training institutions locally has forced them to keep facilitating for people to go and learn outside the country.
Said Chagonda: “Most universities where people are trained focus on theory. It is only when one leaves the institution that they realise they are miles behind. The situation becomes worse because that individual has nowhere to go to upgrade themselves as they perform on the big stage.
“This then affects the quality of the productions we are producing as a nation. This is why we are trying to ensure that we facilitate for these trainings religiously.”
Savanna also holds trainings locally. This June they hosted South Africa’s Bongani Masango and he interacted with seasoned practitioners as well as students from the University of Zimbabwe.