Of Creative Hustle: The Future Of Theatre

I attended a Creative Hustle seminar on The Future of Theatre: Imagining Sustainable New Theatre Practices in the Zimbabwean Context. It was the first in a series of seminar-style events that seek to gain awareness on the range of artistic and non-artistic livelihood opportunities available across creative sector value chains and also offer networking opportunities between artists and non-artists to help strengthen the creative ecosystem. Creative Hustle is hosted by Afrotopia with the support of the British Council in Zimbabwe.

Creative Hustle the future of theatre in Zimbabwe
Creative Hustle attendees can you spot me? Image Credit: #Enthuse

The panelist consisted of Raisedon Baya  a multi award winning playwright, author, columnist, critic, arts administrator and cultural activist, Zaza Muchemwa a UIIWP 2022 Honorary Fellow, poet, writer Dramatic Arts Practitioner and Lady Tshawe  an award-winning artist, RoilBAA, author, voice-over artist, poet, actress, musician, Tv host, director, Founder of @NdebeleCrush

The discussion begun with a look at what theatre meant to the panelists.

What does Theatre mean to them?

Lady Tshawe: Theatre means a place that allows me to play

Raisedon Baya: A place to find your voice. Freedom.

Zaza A place to unshackle myself from societal restrains.

An interesting point that was raised was how we need to demystify theatre. It is considered an elitist art while ironically it is also is perceived as something done by school dropouts and not something to be taken seriously. Consequently, monetization of theatre is a struggle especially in country where the majority have low disposable income.

There’s also a lack of structures and systems that can collectively lobby on behalf of the stakeholders in theatre. The majority of theatre spaces in the country were established pre-independence and have suffered from the ravages of time and also not offering priority to the thespians they should be serving instead hosting music concerts and political rallys while theatre takes a back seat.

While the are many types of theatre such as Protest Theatre, donor led theatre seems to be what people gravitate towards it because of funding opportunities although that also comes with its pitfalls were those sort of productions usually have thematic structures beyond the creators control. While there is nothing wrong with having a particular sort of plays the range in productions gets stifled leaving a dearth of bodies of work that are simply artistic expression or purely for enjoyment.

Raisedon Baya put forward the dual nature of creatives when he talked about how he is Protest Theatre thespian, a follower of Ngugi’s  school of thought were the African writer has no luxury to fantasize. Yet, when he wants to consume theatre, he will be on the lookout for productions with more entertainment value than the heavily thematic bodies of work.

Daves Guzha a seasoned theatre producer gave some insights on the evolution of theatre and how he is from a generation that worked hard to break into the arts industry; at some point theatre actually dominated the arts scene. He mused on how listening to a room with young thespians, theatre seemed to have taken steps backwards and conversations such as these were vital so that the younger players could learn from the experiences of the older and vice versa.

Daves Guzha Creative hustle
Daves Guzha image credit #Enthuse

 Another interesting issue raised was how there was no proper critiques in theatre in mainstream media and you could find a newspaper article written by a journalist who had no clue how to write a review let alone attended a play and instead just wrote based on the synopsis. Media and Journalism students are not actively taught critiquing techniques and how to properly report on a production.

INTWASA will be hosting a workshop on Arts Reporting, Reviewing and criticism for journalists. Initiatives such as this can bridge that gap and show how the arts can can take that step in creating the change they wish to see.

arts reporting and reviewing Masterclass

6 Comments

  1. I am not artistic at all, so worrying about this kind of thing has never even entered my mind. I guess if I were to think about it I’d say Theatre was something that has hung on but has no future and we should just let it fade away. Of course, there are lots of people who disagree with my assessment and I have no problem with that. As long as they don’t try to touch me up for money or my time, we can all get along 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here lies Theatre, faded away by Bookstooge.

      I partly agree with your assessment, in its current shape and form for the future: final act before final curtain…
      The world has 8 Billion people I’m sure somewhere out there one can find a crowd willing to spend their time, money and give standing ovations 🕯🕯🕯

      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting observation on the lost art of critique. I enjoyed digging deeper into the reality of today’s theatre. Interestingly, I just attended a local production of C.S Lewis’ “The Magician’s Nephew” a few weeks back. I’m going to think about it some more (I enjoyed it) through the lens of your essay.

    Like

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