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for social change - Interview with Daniel Maposa, Director of Savanna
March 29, 2011
Inside/Out with Daniel Maposa
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Trust is a non-profit, theatre for development organisation
formed in 2006. The Trust achieves it goals through creating and
presenting performances that address society's problems and
aspirations. The theatre performances by the nature of their design
provoke and provide a platform for dialogue to communities and their
leadership. In 2008 Savanna won a National Arts and Merits Award.
did Savanna come to be?
In 2006, at the height of the Zimbabwean crisis, a group of us artists
had been saying that arts has a role in society. It is not only
for entertainment's sake but all over the world arts and theatre
used to play a role in bringing awareness and educating people on
various social political and economic issues. So we came together
and decided to use our talents to define the role of the arts and
we formed Savanna Trust which worked to do all of this in grassroots
communities, not the kind of elitist theatre that we witnessed at
the time, where there was a lack of access to information and marginalisation.
ways do you utilise theatre for development, what sorts of stories
are you telling?
We capacitate community theatre groups with skills and a few resources
so that they can tell their own stories in their own communities.
We also have what we call facilitators or community activators who
go into a community and research on topics and together with the
community produce a play that deals with the problems and the issues
that they would have identified that are important for that particular
community. In most cases we don't pre-produce a play for a
community but we make sure that the community becomes participants
in the creation process of the play.
there any issues that are universal to the communities that you've
Sure. In Zimbabwe political violence is an issue, as is poverty,
and gender-based violence. Those are universal issues that we find
in communities. What we do first is that the community theatre groups
that we would have trained produce plays that engage and stimulate
people to discuss and find solutions to their own problems. If they
identify an issue and they don't know where to go to get assistance
we then refer them to a specialist organisation. For example we
refer rape victims to the police and other organisations. We try
to make sure that communities mobilise themselves to take actions
with little assistance from us.
communities are you working in?
We are in 67 Provinces: In Mashonaland West we are in Karoi and
Hurungwe and Kadoma. In Mashonaland East, Mutoko. In Matebeleland
South there is Gwanda. Midlands we are in Lalapanzi, and Manicaland
we are in Mutare and here in Harare.
is the Protest Arts International Festival?
It's a festival that tries to publicise the role that protest
arts play in the building of a democratic society. It is held in
Harare - last year was the second edition. It has been very successful.
We have attendance from around the world. This year it will be held
in October. What's important about this festival is that there
is a conference that runs concurrent to it. The conference discusses
the role of protest and there are performances from all forms of
art including music, visual arts, theatre and poetry.
you faced any political resistance to your work?
Quite a lot, especially during our formative years. We had artists
who were arrested in 2007 & 2008 and some were beaten up. We
then devised strategies of going around these problems. That is
when we said communities should also be able to produce their own
work; they should talk to their own issues, instead of us using
a top-down approach. We have had events that were banned but we
have always found a way out of this. If communities are doing it,
it is difficult to ban because it is a movement from that particular
of that resistance, how then do you feel about winning a NAMA Award
For us it was a milestone. The play ‘Madam Speaker Sir'
that we won the award for was highly political. It was also high
on artistic creativity. I think it was an award that was saying
we have achieved our goals in terms of political messaging and artistic
future to you envision for Savanna Trust?
Savanna Trust's future lies in a free democratic Zimbabwe.
As long as there is oppression we will be here. We envision a future
where we are the leading organisation in terms of theatre for social
change in Zimbabwe and the world.
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