By Trevor Makonyonga
Summer is usually Art Festival season in Zimbabwe and due to the COVID 19 pandemic these were under threat. One such festival which could have been affected by the current situation is the Mitambo International Theatre Festival which starts on Tuesday, September 15.
As many events which were scheduled to happen were either cancelled or postponed, the organisers of the Mitambo Festival said although they would not be able to engage all their audiences they were given an opportunity to go virtual.
Festival Media and Publicity Consultant, Mercy Mangwana said that they had an opportunity to digitise although they would have loved physical engagement.
“We choose to look at the challenges as an opportunity. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to digitise and from here we are building on the model. But we cannot ignore the fact that we were looking forward to have a personal engagement and hosting people from different nationalities in our beautiful sunshine city as well as try to build the theatre going culture in the local audiences. With the impact we had last year we were expecting more from this year. But the corona virus happened and we are worried that some of our audiences are not online. They are out there where the Mitambo pop ups would have reached them.”
Mangwana hinted on a fantastic lineup of events which if not disturbed would maintain the stature of the festival which is now entering it’s second year.
“This year’s edition is coming in style, responding to the new normal and giving the audiences a chance to experience theatre on screen. In the comfort of their homes, practitioners also get to share and learn from industry experts both local, regional and international who include Jasen Mpepho, Savanna trust, Daves Guzha , Prof Schneider, Patience Tawengwa, Dr Maedza, Plot Mhako and many others online. Look out for local acts from veteran directors and actors ike Bob Mutumbi, Kessia Magosha and Eddingtone Hatitongwe,” she said.
Festival Director, Lloyd Nyikadzino explained how this year’s event will be held.
“This year’s festival will be running online from the 15 th of September to the 3rd of October 2020. The festival opening event will be on the 14th of September. We are going online and we will have zoom workshops and discussions, live streaming of short and full length plays on our Facebook pages. Mitambo International Theatre Festival and Zimbabwe Theatre Academy and our partners pages Heart &Soul, Earground and others to be shared as soon as possible. It’s three weeks long to allow for online engagement. It’s not continuous. The first week is mainly workshops, discussions and theatre discussions. Then short plays and later on full length plays. This is meant to build context and then build up momentum towards the live streaming of the plays.taking audiences from the online workshops and discussions.”
He also shared the theme for this year’s showdown.
Nyikadzino said, “#CONNECT. To create partnerships and links between Zimbabwean theatre practitioners, regional and international theatre practitioners. Last year we emerged now we are Connecting.”
Founded last year, Mitambo International Theatre Festival is an annual theatre festival that seeks to create partnerships and links between Zimbabwean, regional and international theatre practitioners. The Festival seeks to establish links and host a world-class sustainable event that contributes to the long-term development of theatre in Zimbabwe.
It is usually a five day summer festival held in Harare with series of theatre performances, workshops, paper presentations, pop ups and shows. The first edition held last year was under the theme “Emerge”.