More Theatre Art Promoters Welcome

EARLY this year I buoyed up colleagues who stood up to launch a voluntary theatre promotional agency called the Copperbelt Theatre Organisers (CTO), adding to the list of well time-honoured theatre aocates and planners.

For some reasons, a section of people contrasted the idea of new theatre societies, saying this would risk the already obtainable theatre bodies like the National Theatre Arts Association of Zambia (NATAAZ), the Zambia Popular Theatre Association (ZAPOTA) and the newly now matured National Schools Arts Association of Zambia (NASAAZ).

Lest I am misunderstood I am of the opinion, loads of theatre promoters or associations should clap for the Chingola-based Ackson Tembo’s ABET theatre promotions and the Mukuba Arts Trust (MAT), and all other promoters in music too on the Copperbelt.

Mind you, the theory behind little theatre houses on the line of rail that stayed alive from Kamenza Theatre club in Chililabombwe to Livingstone’s Capitol Cinemas was to promote theatre arts not necessarily plays, but fine art displays, designs and craft, music, dance and drama.

The presence of many arts associations like NATAAZ, NASAAZ, ABET, MAT, Yezi and the Mwansabombwe theatre festival organisers is endearing – so let’s appreciate and welcome the Copperbelt Theatre Organisers, which, primarily aim to revitalise sleeping theatre houses like Luanshya’s Roan Amateur Dramatic Operand Society (RADOS) and Kamenza Theatre Club and exchange notes as well as get them up and running with theatrical activities!

The aantages of the availability of many arts associations are manifolds create competitive organizational and management skills, provide a venue for comparative exhibition of plays and give entertainment to the public.

In Zimbabwe, there are over 38 theatre-related festivals which take place nearly every month – sometimes three different festivals in a month!

Admittedly, Zimbabwe’s theatre strategy and standards actors and actresses, playwrights, directors, stage designers and managers are of higher caliber!

As though this debate were a follow up, a couple of months earlier, Stephen Chifunyise, remember him? He was Zambia’s director with the department for cultural services, presently he is the Zimbabwean representative with UNESCO.

Chifunyise asked me to send him Zambia’s theatre festival calendars for each arts association, dreaming he would one time travel over to sample some performances – see what, I was only able to point out at those organised by NATAAZ, Yezi, NASAAZ, Mwansabombwe and MAT. Strangely, ZAPOTA does not run festivals, so does ABET.

Since the passing on of Fr Miha in Ndola, MAT has never been the same. In my personal labours, efforts to kick start the guys who have remained all have not made the grade.

Under Fr Miha Drevensek, MAT was such a richly organised event only measured up to the National Arts Council (NAC)’s Ngoma Awards seemingly, we have all let this event die a natural death.

Someone might disagree, why we don’t fortify the existing promotional associations other than welcome CTO!

It is not effortless to merely wake up and be part and parcel of existing establishments. This is why mediocrity has generally reigned and crippled in arts associations leaderships – no mark, for instance, of organizational skillfulness exist in the Zambia Folk Dance and Music Society (ZAFODAMUS). Challengingly, no commitment for any activity emerges from ZAFODAMUS.

Zambia may possibly never develop the creative industry if arts associations remain inept as ZAFODAMUS, as a result.

Something about ABET Promotions Ackson Tembo has admirable and brilliant schemes and thoughts, but this man needs principled, ethical, honest and financial support I am told it is ABET Promotions that often protracts Chingola Arts Society with club management knacks and skills, particularly at the beginning of new management committees.

Could ABET be one of the reasons CAS has essentially remained as one of the well run theatre clubs in Zambia? I want to forcefully believe that.

ABET organises workshops for clubs and schools, but never festivals – wake up ABET and join the party of festival organisers. Festivals do not necessarily need to declare winners and losers, but measly festivals that will bring theatre groups together and share notes and showcase their talents with a conned theme how to contain the deadly ebola, HIV AIDS, Gender Based Violence or and other themes.

When the idea to firmly shape the Copperbelt Theatre Organizers was mooted, it was following the triumphant World Theatre Day (WTD) celebrated last on 28 March at the non-operational Kamenza Theatre in Chililabombwe individuals I noticed exhibited rare commitment and managerial skills organizing this celebration were Clement Muyasani, Godfrey Chitambala, Edward Lange, Pamela Hojane, Bwalya Chikwanda, David Kalunga, Kennedy Siyanda – all should be inscribed and celebrated for raising to the occasion spending their own resources to ensure the joyful success of the annual WTD.

The more we have theatre institutions, the more our people, especially the youths are exposed to a diversity and multiplicity of skills management and leadership, acting and directing, script writing and stagecraft and other aptitudes.

While I am individually not keen on competitive festivals, but as long as groups assemble to exhibit their talents, one cannot rule out contemporary preferences from one group to another. The successful Zimbabwean theatre stories are a result of the many institutional theatre promoters. Let’s take a leaf.

With very little going on many times, I question what other tasks our district and provincial cultural officers do I presume, very little work!

So I want to congratulate the now formalized Copperbelt Theatre Organizers chaired by Godfrey Chitambala with Pamela Hojane as secretary and, Clement Muyasani as Treasurer.

Others are Bwalya Chikwanda, Lydia Mhango, Edward Lange, Vivien Wamala Silwamba, David Kalunga, Reuben Chama, Nazi Phiri, Kennedy Banda.

As I compiled this column late last week, I had not received an official report about the four-day National Schools Arts Association of Zambia (NASAAZ) festival held at Solwezi College of Education in Northwestern Province a fortnight ago.

I am sure David Asumani, the boss behind NASAAZ must have encountered many other challenges however, I got snippets of information from a reliable source who declined to be named.

She wrote through my mobile phone, “Firstly, the venue, Solwezi College of Education was unhealthy, and pupils were made to sleep without mattresses, while some teachers were made to pay K20 for a mattress. And that teachers from the Copperbelt opted to find own accommodation elsewhere,” further describing the festival as not well organized in comparison to yesteryears!

Graced by the North-Western Provincial Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu, the festival was generally well attended by Provincial Education Standards Officers, District Education Board Secretaries, head teachers and teachers from all the provinces.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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