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MeTambo News – October 2013
Theatre Institute Zimbabwe
October 16, 2013
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with Tariro Mushonga
recently caught up with upcoming lighting designer Tariro Mushonga
to speak about his experiences as a technical person in the Zimbabwean
Arts Industry and the challenges he has faced as well as the solutions
to the problems the industry faces.
us a little about yourself.
I am a creative arts addict who specialises in lighting design and
set design. I am an all round techie who is passionate about wielding
screw drivers and scaling heights.
did you get started?
I approached Reps Theatre after I saw their advert in the press
and also on their website calling for volunteers. They welcomed
my passion with two hands and it is there that I received my training
as a technical person.
drew you to technical work in the arts industry?
I love live events. I am a concert head and an enthusiastic theatregoer.
I have however, always been intrigued by the men and women in black
sitting in the dark, pressing buttons and making all the magic on
At a certain
time at college where I was studying Religions and Peace studies,
I knew that being a techie is what I wanted to do.
What is the state of the technical in Zimbabwean arts?
The fact that you have never seen fireworks in a show outside HIFA
fire machines and daylight projections are barely known. Flying
people on and off the stage is only occasionally done by Reps Theatre.
We are still far way behind. People are reluctant to use props and
set design somehow still means wedding-like décor. Despite
productions like Idols SA being popular here, people are afraid
to try out things they see on TV.
are some of the challenges faced by techies in Zimbabwean arts?
Remuneration is often very little. Recently, I was offered $200
for a six-day festival with over 15 working hours a day. I turned
it down. And because meaningful techie jobs rarely come by many
people jump at the offer of such paltry amounts.
Also when arts
support organisations when it comes to doing training programs for
behind the scenes people they only do so for directors, writers,
producers and arts administrators. Technical people also work behind
the scenes and are very important support personnel to a production.
No matter how good a performer is, if the lights and sound are poor
or the scenic changes do not happen on cue the production will suffer.
should be done?
More money should be put into productions. Most productions do not
have a budget for lights and set. In the West End a small theatre
production will have a tech budget of no less than a hundred thousand
dollars. The new blood, the post MTV watching generation should
be allowed to experiment and make mistakes. My favourite designer,
Bob Dickinson, lighting designer to many awards shows in the United
States of America and some Olympic ceremonies was at 30 given the
opportunity to light the Oscars as an experiment at . He has single
handedly defined how awards show are supposed to be lit in the 21st
also be put in place to standardise the practice. Technical Companies
like Stage-Con and AVPro should offer more formal learner ships
to technical enthusiasts. A strong collaboration culture between
techies should also develop so people can work together and find
ways to enhance the production together
can people get involved in the arts as technical support personnel?
Just be tech savvy, be creative and willing to work long hours.
Approach production houses or technical support companies that are
reputable and well stocked and ask them to train you. They will
train you with no remuneration. Right now I recommend Reps Theatre,
Stage-Con, AVPro and Davies Events. They have fairly modern and
standardized professional equipment and work environments.
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