JOHANNESURG — Celebrated Bulawayo arts ensemble, Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa), are working on a partnership deal that will see them bring various Austrian theatre groups to Bulawayo for performances at arts festivals and other theatre venues.
The group, popular for exporting African music, theatre and dance to Europe and Asia since their formation in 2001, now want local theatre buffs to be exposed to the theatre culture of Austria.
Iyasa director Nkululeko Innocent Dube revealed that the partnership will introduce age specific theatre and create more platforms to promote it.
“In 2001 we met an Austrian theatre director Stephan Rabl in Harare when we performed at a children’s theatre festival. He liked the concept of a school of arts. We then agreed to create exchange programmes between Zimbabwe and Austria encompassing theatre and dance.
“He invited us to our first-ever tour of Europe and since then we decided to create performances with other theatre groups and dance companies within Austria. To date, we have linked up with groups such as Szene Bunte Wahner, Theatro Piccolo and Make-Make among others,” Dube said.
“Recently, Rabl visited Zimbabwe and we met with various arts stakeholders in Bulawayo including the city council, festival directors and local arts groups. We also toured various arts venues around the city. What we realised is that there are no theatre productions which are specific to different ages.”
Dube said they decided to focus on children and young people and will bring in theatre productions from Austria, targeting children as young as two years old.
“We will have performances for children as young as two years old. These are usually the forgotten audiences, but we hope to popularise that again in Zimbabwe. We are also working with various theatre groups in the city to impart in them the necessary skills, through workshops and training programmes.
“We hope that at the Intwasa Arts Festival and Beitbridge International Festival, there will be some productions from Austria showcasing,” he said.
He revealed that they will also work with schools, arts groups and playwrights who would be encouraged to write plays for young audiences.
Iyasa already has an annual programme called Isiphiwo Sami Talent Search which seeks to harness and nurture arts at grassroots level. The programme is in its sixth edition this year and is being held under the theme “Destiny” and schools are tasked to produce 15-minute long plays. Meanwhile, Iyasa will leave for their annual tour of Europe next week. The globetrotting arts ensemble will tour countries like Slovakia, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany and will only return home at the end of August.
“We will be based in Austria, which is our base when we are overseas. We are looking forward to the tour and we will stage some of our famous productions like Sisonke and Girafika,” he said.