Zimbabwe Theatre Academy has opened new doors for young theatre and filmmakers under its project; Enhanced Capacity for Young Theatre Makers as a vehicle for cultural promotion and commercial venture. The groundbreaking project is funded by the Sound Connects Fund (SCF), an initiative by the Music In Africa Foundation (MIAF) and Goethe-Institut. Sound Connects Fund is made possible with funding from the ACP-EU Culture programme, a project implemented by the Organisation of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) and funded by the European Union (EU).
The first ever Zimbabwe Online Theatre Television will be running and operating under the identity of FOLLOWSPOT Theatre TV. The online platform will be launched on the 9th of February in Harare and on other virtual platforms. The academy through launching the FOLLOWSPOT Theatre TV has created a platform for digitizing and distributing high-quality theatre content within the SADC region and the African continent.
This launch and project come at an opportune time when the global cultural and creative industries are embracing technology. The project has adopted and will be using digital tools to respond to the growing demand for creating and providing content, particularly in digital form. The alternative virtual platform for theatre will be used for the digitization, promotion, and consumption of locally produced Zimbabwean online theatre content.
The Zimbabwe Theatre Academy believes that this initiative is contributing towards the utilization of both traditional “live” actors and “live”-audiences whilst the short plays are being filmed. The academy believes that this relationship creates a hybrid art form that will revitalize theatre for contemporary audiences with an increased desire and appetite for new experiences. The online theatre television is being launched after 29 young creatives have been incubated for enhancing their digital and performance skills to improve their packaging and distribution of digital theatre plays. Digital tools have been used to record, and package 10 original short plays, for the new online theatre television thus expanding access to theatre via new technology.
This creative enterprise in partnership with the Sound Connects Fund is the first of its kind project in Zimbabwe that responds to the needs of theatre and the performing arts sector of meeting global standards, reaching new markets, and creating sustainable partnerships. Due to a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy was able to strategically identify the major traditional gap within the theatre of relying only on physical audiences. This was exposed by the closure of theatre spaces which increased the sector’s vulnerability both financially and creatively.
In a comment, Zimbabwe Theatre Academy Director Mr. Lloyd Nyikadzino said that “Complementing traditional theatre experiences (physical performances) by adopting digital technologies (acting for screen experience), will create, expand and strengthen creative spaces and economic potential for theatre makers. Looking into the future, FOLLOWSPOT Theatre TV anticipates fruitful collaborations and partnerships with various local television stations and other online platforms, in content production, packaging, marketing, and distribution activities. These planned partnerships will potentially grow the performing arts industry and will put Zimbabwe’s diverse and rich content on global platforms.”
The project will also see Zimbabwe Theatre Academy, through its acting for screen training program channeling out 10 new authentic and original plays as a starting point and then opening up the platform for interested partners. Teddy Mangawa the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy programs manager points out that “We are happy that the directly trained 29 young creative entrepreneurs were able to go through the hands of celebrated and some award-winning Zimbabwe television and film practitioners. Some of the local mentors were, Joe Jangu, Nakai Matema, Leonard Matsa, Rumbi Katedza, Plot Mhako, Chimwewe Joy Chipidza, and Cyril Mudzinganyama”.
The Zimbabwe Theatre Academy will also work with various media players by offering content to stream on their platform resulting in giving our audience what they deserve at the same time creating financial income for the creative industry players.
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