Leading artists have stepped up efforts to create a network of film and theatre producers in a bid to tackle challenges and explore opportunities.
Renowned playrights and producers Daves Guzha, Cont Mhlanga, Josh Nyapimbi and Daniel Maposa are among the brains driving the agenda.
The National Theatre Indaba, to be held in Gweru from April 10 – 12 will make a good springboard for the new venture. The indaba will be attended by theatre organisations like the Theatre Association, the Centre of the International Theatre Institute, the Association of Theatre for children and cultural institutions.
“Over the years film and theatre producers faced numerous challenges, such as acquiring resources to come up with world class productions. It is against this background that we hope to see a situation where the producers form a network in which we can share ideas and confront challenges as a united force,” said Mhlanga, founder and current head of the Amakhosi Theatre productions.
He added that when formed, the network would focus on enhancing the functions of a theatre producer and the status of production houses. Censorship, professionalism in the industry and the shrinking space of performers will be key targets for action by the group.
Artists and playwrights have had to bear the grief of incarceration and prosecution over their works of art. In March 2010, Bulawayo-based artist Owen Maseko spent four days in police custody after an exhibition of his paintings that depicted the Gukurahundi era and decades of oppression under President Robert Mugabe’s regime. The Home Affairs Ministry and the Censorship Board banned his artwork describing it as a ‘tribal based event’. Maseko was charged with insulting Mugabe. Voti Thebe, manager of the Bulawayo Gallery, was also arrested for allowing the exhibition.
Another Bulawayo playwright, Styx Mhlanga, the younger brother of Cont Mhlanga, was arrested for allegedly “criticising a poem about heroes.” Mhlanga, a resident artist at the Bulawayo Art Gallery, was arrested after he passed judgement on a poem brought by an unnamed artist to an exhibition. He challenged the poet on why only liberation war heroes from Mashonaland, and none from Matabeleland, were highlighted in the poem.
Police charged him of “uttering words … with the intention to engender, promote or expose to hatred, contempt or ridicule … a class of persons in Zimbabwe solely on account of their tribe.”
Such cases can be reduced if producers of work of can come together as planned and form a network to fight for their careers. TheZimbabwean