THE YEAR 2013 was generally the most difficult year since 2010 for Amakhosi Cultural Centre within the implementation of a growth strategy for 2010-2015 for various seasonal programmes of the cultural centre.
The Plays On Sunday season was no exception on the challenges besetting the centre. However, this new season was implemented as planned to the end of its run. It is a half-year amateur theatre season that is meant to kick off every year during the first Sunday of January to the last Sunday of June.
It presents a new play from anyone around Bulawayo every Sunday and 2013 saw the presentation of 35 plays.
The season was extended by two months to September 1 by popular demand from young theatre makers and actors as they got a supportive audience to play and get valuable feedback from professional theatre practitioners.
The season also found itself doing three things it was not intended to do. These are being used as a platform to premier some good plays from Bulawayo by professional artists and hosting touring plays from out of Bulawayo.
It hosted plays from Masvingo, Gweru, Harare and Gwanda and it became a festival platform for Intwasa Festival’s short plays for the month of September.
This added a full month of September to the season effectively closing on the last Sunday of September.
During these additional responsibilities that were undertaken by the season paying audience, figures swelled and the number of audiences increased per show. This speaks volumes to the success of the 2013 Plays On Sunday season.
It was the first season to be mounted at the Cultural Centre and not only did it build a new theatre audience, but also discovered new playwrights directors, producers, actors and crew staff who will for sure dominate the national theatre industry in the not so distant future as the country looks ahead to the digitalisation of television that will bring in more television channels that will require 75% local content.
To describe it in a sentence I can say: “Plays On Sunday is a pilot experiment in Zimbabwe’s theatre industry that just went magic in a very difficult economic and political environment of the country.”
I can only hope that as the theatre industry gets into 2014 the creative industry’s donor community, the new Sport Arts and Culture ministry, other government departments that work with youths empowerment, education, small-to-medium enterprises, heritage, culture and content will not look aside and pretend there is nothing of national value happening in Makokoba as is the norm and bring themselves forward to the hood to pilot and run new funding models that deliver results and national dividend in a short, medium and long term around the Plays On Sunday season.
So much can be done by so many different people around this season to educate and empower young people.
The 2014 Plays On Sunday season started last Sunday with the staging of Scra Mdala’s Sweet Mama. Make a date every Sunday at 4pm to experience a local theatre performance when in the city of Bulawayo the cultural heartland of Zimbabwe.
The 2013 Plays On Sunday season was self funded carried by the already existing material resources and infrastructure of the cultural centre and sponsored by the participants who met all their expenses.
Its crew and management were done by the Amakhosi Arts Academy students as part of their practical events management learning course.
As part of our implementation of the 2010-2015 Amakhosi Cultural Centre Growth Strategy, this year we open the centre’s theatre production house, Amakhosi Theatre that stopped making and presenting plays in 2007 because of the difficult economic environment.
Amakhosi Theatre has a unique way of doing theatre business and when it shut its production doors, the impact was felt across the theatre sector of the city and the country.
We plan that its reopening in 2014 will equally be felt across the country as we say at Amakhosi, Umkhulu Lo Msebenzi.
Cont Mhlanga is the founder and director of Amakhosi Cultural Centre