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No Voice No Choice update report on SADC Community Theatre Festival
Tafadzwa Muzondo
November 21, 2011

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Introduction

"No Voice No Choice" had two performances in Johannesburg where the 10 member team of an amalgamated cast from EDZAI ISU Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts Ensemble, supported by Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, went to participate in the SADC Best of the Best Community Theatre Festival 2011. We had an opportunity to share experiences with 18 Community Theatre groups from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. South Africa had the most number of the participating groups with representatives from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Tembisa, Duduza, Heidleberg, Secunda and Johannesburg. The play is a result of a partnership born out of an imperative to take community theatre to another level through pulling together ideas, skills and resources hence the participation at the SADC Best of the Best Community Theatre Festival inspired us and convinced us that Zimbabwean art can compete on another level and also made us pull our stockings as presentations had their unique performance styles which made us stick to and polish our style.

The preparations went well in as far as the rehearsals of the production which was already in place having had two performances before (at the International Day of Peace by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Protest Arts International Festival by Savannah Trust). The challenges where in terms of the funding since the festival was providing for accommodation and food in Johannesburg and so we had to seek supplementary funding for transport and allowances (per diems and honorariums) and we are grateful to the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe for being a knight in shining armour as our plans would have been seriously compromised had they not chipped in.

Execution

The 10 member team left Harare at 8pm on Friday 13 November aboard Greyhound and arrived in Johannesburg at around 3pm comprising of:

  • Tafadzwa Muzondo
  • Gibson Sarari
  • Ratidzo (Eunice) Tava
  • Everson Ndlovu
  • Charles Biniweri
  • Livius Chitsungo
  • Charlotte Munyanyi
  • Beauty Majira
  • Gabriel Akupa
  • Isheunesu Moyo

Two performances were done as follows:

1. South African Council of Churches (Khotso House): 12 November 2011 - 4.30pm

Attended by people who remained behind after a meeting on Cancer addressed by the Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister who also underpinned the need to have free and fair elections without violence - another cancer that has affected our politics, this performance was an opportunity to reach out to Zimbabweans in South Africa who have a role to play in creating and/or sustaining a culture of peace in our politics, societies and families. They identified very well with the set and plot of the play, its humorous and emotional moments in a performance that left the people who saw the play encouraging the artists to take the show to as many people in Zimbabwe and abroad to spread the message.

2. Sibikwe Arts Centre (Benoni): 13 November 2011 - 12pm

Initially billed to start the program of the day, we were pushed to the third group and thus performed at 12 noon. Although we failed to see the other 10 performances that were performed the day we arrived, we managed to see the other 7 performances from other community theatre groups that include: Mandy Productions from Gaborone in Botswana, Jahunda Arts from Gwanda in Zimbabwe, Zase Laduma Arts Projects from Secunda, B & T Productions from Port Elizabeth, Africa Jam from Cape Town, and Afrika Entle Theatre Workshop from Pretoria all in South Africa.

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