Zimbabwe Theatre Academy launches new project for young theatre makers

Zimbabwe Theatre Academy, in partnership with the Sound Connects Fund, is pleased to announce the launch of its new project; Enhanced capacity for young theatre makers as a vehicle for cultural promotion and commercial venture.   

The Zimbabwe Theatre Academy, which is registered and accredited by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, was established by the multi-award-winning theatre professional Lloyd Nyikadzino to professionalize theatre in Zimbabwe. The sustained need for entrepreneurial and creative skills training continues to be the organization’s overarching commitment.

The Academy derives strategies that create opportunities for youths in the service of audiences and indeed livelihoods for the graduates of the academy.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many theatre organizations including the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy were adversely affected by the restrictions on physical gatherings. Post-Covid, many theatre organizations are still struggling to recover owing to a season of financial lack. However, in some parts of the world, this strain was not felt much as the presence of digital platforms ensured that they continue working, remain relevant, and engaged with their audience while monetizing their content. Based on that, the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy noticed a digital gap that could be explored to make sure that theatre in Zimbabwe and the region not only reaches its traditional and new audiences globally but also brings financial benefits to artists.

In response to this gap, the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy with support from the Sound Connects Fund is implementing an eight months project to capacitate young theatre makers with skills to create content for the camera. The project aims to establish a new online theatre television platform for the distribution of mainly short Zimbabwean plays but also including the African plays. The project will assist in the adjustment of some theatre products and services to digital platforms. This is essential for the theatre’s sustained significance and contribution to the global creative economy. Influenced by the Academy’s years of theatre education and producing award-winning plays and actors, the academy will create the first-ever integrated Zimbabwe Online Theatre Television (ZOTT).

We are in the process of of formulating an acting for screen module and we invited film veterans like Stephen Chigorimbo, Joe Njagu, Eunice Tava, Stuart Sakarombe, Anthony Tongani, Leonard Matsa, Eddie Sandifolo to consult them on what they think are important components that we need to include in the module. We are trying to improve our training method so that we offer our students with relevant skills.

This opportunity will offer theatre practitioners a platform to reach the global market. This does not mean that the academy is migrating; especially full-length theatre plays to online platforms. Only short plays which will be performed in front of a live audience, recorded will further be promoted online. The Academy also seeks to serve a lot of Zimbabweans living outside the country, who are hungry for local content which addresses various socio-political and economic issues around Zimbabwe and the region.

As a way of empowering the creative industry players, the project will offer 20 emerging theatre makers, with a focus on women and youths, digital and performance skills to improve their packaging and distribution of digital theatre plays.

It was noticed that most of the theatre actors and actresses need acting-for-screen skills which will help them to be flexible to adapt from stage to screen. This process will also help to formulate a module on theatre for screen to be used at Zimbabwe Theatre Academy and distributed to various stakeholders. Through the core skills digital training incubation, the 20 theatre artists will also be exposed to the technical skills, knowledge, and demands of digitally recording plays.  The project’s virtual platform for high-quality theatre products will further advance the efforts of monetization of the sector whilst responding to the demands of online content consumption.      

The creation and digital training will be facilitated by a creative team consisting of, experts who have demonstrated their competence and contributed to the growth and development of the theatre and film sector in Zimbabwe. These are the experts that are going to be the mentors during the creation and performance process of this project.

Enhanced capacity for young theatre makers as a vehicle for cultural promotion and commercial venture is funded by the Sound Connects Fund (SCF), an initiative by the Music In Africa Foundation (MIAF) and Goethe-Institut. The Sound Connects Fund is made possible with the financial contribution of the European Union and the support of the Organisation of ACP States. 

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