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British Council announces the final five to stage new plays at HIFA 2007
British Council, Zimbabwe
October 25, 2006

The British Council has continually shown itself to be an enthusiastic supporter of Zimbabwean artistic endeavours and its collaboration with the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) on the exciting Hi-Five playwriting initiative, launched during HIFA 2006, is just one example of the courageous and innovative projects it undertakes in order to encourage the growth and development of Zimbabwean arts and culture.

HIFA is certainly one of Zimbabwe’s most prominent showcases of our country’s artistic and cultural contribution to the regional and international arts scene. The 2006 Festival, coming under the theme ‘hand in hand’ catapulted Zimbabwean arts onto the international forum in so many ways and this trend is set to continue even more prominently with HIFA 2007.

Media coverage of the 2006 Festival was extensive not least because one of the most important aspects of the Festival is the opportunity it offers international partners within Zimbabwe of engaging with the Zimbabwean community in a meaningful way. This has been taken a step further by the British Council, Harare.

Hi-Five was set up to encourage new local playwrights to create fresh, original Zimbabwean scripts that would premiere at HIFA 2007. At the same time, these writers would be establishing networks internationally that would further stimulate new ideas and institute relationships with other scriptwriters from around the world. As part of this pilot programme, writers were encouraged to write ten minute scripts which were submitted to HIFA, where a panel of established local writers and directors chose 12 writers to go through the first phase of the project. These talented writers were then mentored by playwrights from two of London’s ‘new writing’ theatres, the Royal Court and The Soho Theatre. This work culminated in a shared staged reading performance that was enthusiastically received at HIFA 2006.

With HIFA 2007 just over 6 months away, the project goes into its second and most important phase. A panel of both local and international mentors have chosen 5 writers from the original 12 whose insight and innovative writing will be further honed to produce future works that will show Zimbabwean audiences and the rest of the world just what this country is able to produce. With the backing of the British Council, Harare, this project promises to be one of the most exciting HIFA has ever embarked upon and one that will undoubtedly have all HIFA 2007 audiences talking about it.

The five writers chosen are new faces on the local theatrical scene and include Eresina Hwede, a writer with Global Arts; Mandisi Gobodi, a TV writer, Director and Producer, from Bulawayo; Patrick Mahlasera, a student with the Zimbabwe Open University; Tafadzwa Muzondo, founder of the Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Tawanda Kanengoni, a Law Student at the University of Zimbabwe. HIFA is proud to be able to work with and encourage these new writers who will soon be embarking an intensive six month process to write five new plays to world premiere at HIFA 2007, 1 – 6 May next year.

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