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Mitambo Festival kicks off

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Trevor Makonyonga

The second edition of the Mitambo International Theatre Festival roared to life yesterday (Tuesday) with an opening workshop.

The annual arts festival which is being held online is running under the theme “Connect”.

The initial workshop focused on the topic “Performing with and in the face of a global pandemic” with panelists from across the globe.

 One of the panelists at the workshop, founder of Patsime Trust, Jasen Mphepo lamented over the failure of the organisations to secure funding during the COVID 19 pandemic.

“We have adopted the use of radio and television for our programmes. It is new to us as we were used to having live audiences. We have a theatre which is one year six months old and as we were beginning to grow the pandemic struck. We have been trying to fundraise but most organisations are focusing on the pandemic itself. We are hoping that the government comes through with a relief fund.”

Other panelists included Yvette Hardie (Assitej South Africa), Tobias Biancone (Switzerland) and Nikkole Salter (USA) who gave different accounts of the global pandemic from their different areas. Zaza Muchemwa moderated the first worksop.

 Yvette Hardie talked about the challenges that they have been faced as an organization which deals with children.

She talked about how it was not the same to interact with the children on the screen although she outlined the importance of innovations that have kept theatre going on.

 Hardie also unpacked a document which is to be presented to governments which focuses on prioritizing theatre education for children.

 Nikkole Salter then talked of the US government giving relief funds to artists. Key to her presentation was when she briefed on politician Kamala Harris offer to artists to write bills which could help to start political conversations.

She also questioned why arts are being considered as priviledges and not essential services. She gave an update of how venues are being opened with artists being quarantined fourteen days before and after the production and them not leaving venues.

Another speaker, Tobias Biancone spoke of how politicians are using fear and panic which has distorted what has to be done in theatre.bHe spoke of politicians omitting the culture and arts on the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 He reiterated what other speakers talked of about the screen not being the same as live audiences.

He said, “Theatre matters, theatre is a thriving force, theatre inspires and theatre gives a voice. We need to ensure that theatre matters.”

Mitambo International Theater Festival will continue with more workshops.

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