Cont Mhlanga bemoans death of theatre

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RENOWNED script writer Cont Mhlanga says artistes in the city are partly to blame for the dearth of the theatre industry at the turn of the millennium.

Report by Luyanduhlobo Makwati

Mhlanga, in an interview with Southern Eye, said in 2000 veteran stage performers shifted their focus from the country and instead started concentrating on Western audiences and markets.

He bemoaned the state of the theatre industry in the country, saying few artistes were working to revive the sector.

“I believe I and other veteran artistes we are responsible for the death of the theatre industry in the country because we shifted our attention to Europe in 2000 and since then the industry went down and our audiences here at home started dwindling until they vanished into thin air,” Mhlanga said.

However, Mhlanga said he was now working hard trying to revive the industry with the assistance of Thulani Mlambo popularly known as Khumalo.

“Truly speaking I realised that the industry had gone down,” he said.

“ I am working hard to make sure that we preserve the legacy that we had built by coming up with various strategies of educating teachers in secondary schools and working with Midlands State University.”

Mhlanga is currently training teachers around the country through theatre workshops in various provinces.

Last week he trained more than 100 teachers from Matabeleland South province.

Mhlanga said the move was aimed at equipping teachers with theatre knowledge so that they can cascade it to their students in various schools.

He noted that teachers were incapacitated over the past years especially on issues pertaining to theatre and drama for development in schools.

“What people must understand is that our teachers were not giving our pupils adequate information on theatre issues because they did not have the relevant knowledge and now as Amakhosi we are trying to equip them with relevant knowledge which they take to schools and develop our budding theatre performers,” Mhlanga said.