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New Horizon Theatre back from Denmark tour
CHIPAWO
November 23, 2005

A couple of months ago I wrote an article in a local daily about how it is important to encourage youth development in Africa, especially in Zimbabwe.

The month of October was a whole new experience for New Horizon Theatre Company; the group had an opportunity to tour the Scandinavian country Denmark from 4 to 30 October .One thing that made the group unique and earn respect as professionals was being the only country representing Zimbabwe as well as Africa.

Preparations for the journey began in April when CHIPAWO organised a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson at a colourful function held at the National Art Gallery and it is at the same function that the play The Little Man of Murewa was also launched. The Danish Amateur Theatre Association (DATS) invited CHIPAWO to participate at a festival called the Meeting Place 2005- a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen which was scheduled to run from 9th to 14th of October in Esbjerg. The play was also showcased at Reps Theatre for two weeks in September.

As we prepared for the journey DATS decided to prepare an exciting programme for The New Horizon Theatre company which resulted in a tour of Denmark which was to last a month. I must say it was a whole new experience for the youth considering this was their first international performance as professionals in theatre. Humlebaek in North Zeeland was our first stop where we were hosted by a Ragnarock theatre which was celebrating its thirty years anniversary week. Our first performance was at Baunebjerg School and although there were a few children who could understand English the play got a great response as it was easy for them to follow the play because it was an adaptation of one of Andersenís popular fairy tales Great Claus and Little Claus.

The group also got a chance to see a Danish performance by Ragnarock Theatre entitled Eureka as well as a one man show in English by Francis Pardeilham called Hic et Nunc. The group stayed in Humlebaek for five days and after that it was time to go to Esbjerg for the Meeting Place Festival.

The festival had fourteen participants i.e. Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Lithuania, Croatia, Estonia, Spain, Malta, Singapore, Argentina, Hungary, Venezuela, Slovakia and Zimbabwe. According to DATS each performance was selected in the light of the individual quality of the play but together the fifteen plays from fourteen countries showed great variety of various artistically expressions all based on the experience of H.C. Andersen and his universe.Zimbabweís performance was on day 5 and Esbjerg Teater (Theatre) was house full and Iím sure it was because all the countries were curious to know what we were going to present. The group received a standing ovation for their performance and it was like I was seeing the play for the first time; it was a great performance.

For those who had a chance to see The Little Man of Murewa at The Reps Theatre in September here is a summary of what the play is all about, the action is set in the country district of Murewa in Zimbabwe. In the district, there are two men of the same first name, Krausi- VaKrausi Chidamari (Lover- of- Money) and VaKrausi Wenyika (One- of- the- people). VaChidamari is rich. He is what in Zimbabwe is called a chef, the local political boss, a Member of Parliament and once a Cabinet Minister. So he is called Big Krausi. VaWenyika is just one of the povo, a humble man but very clever and he is called Little Krausi. Big Krausi had a full team of oxen and Little Krausi only one. So he and Big Krausi made a deal, all week Little Krausi had to plough for Big Krausi and one Sunday Big Krausi lent Little Krausi three of his oxen to make a span so that he could plough his field. The story follows Andersenís classic treatment of how the little and the weak outwit the big and the foolish and the play integrates the moral into the realities of the Zimbabwean situation. We made a few changes to liven up the play as well as move away as much as possible from dialogue because English had become a barrier. So, what changes did we make? We cut parts which had a lot of dialogue and put in as much music and traditional dance as possible.

The festival was made up so that each day would have three shows that characterised one side of H.C. Andersen followed by workshops and open forums. At the Zimbabwean open forum Thomas Hauger a representative of DATS said, "It seems like H. C. Andersen wrote the story Little Claus and Big Claus for Zimbabwe." I must say the group represented Zimbabwe of all the participants we were the only country that held our flag high up and sang the national anthem. The festival provided a new inspiration as well as the opportunity for both the audience and the participants to watch theatre from all over the world in one town. To view some of the pictures taken at the festival you can log on to www.dats.dk

After the festival in Esbjerg it was time for us to head North Jutland where we had a number of performances, workshops and sightseeing lined for us but the most memorable time in Thy is when we had lunch with the Mayor of Thy and had a chance to tour the townhouse. Later that night the Mayor was present at our concert were we featured marimba, mbira, traditional and modern dances. As for the workshops it was quite an experience for both New Horizon Theatre and Hordum community because they managed taught each other folk songs and dances. After North Jutland we proceeded to Copenhagen where we had a similar programme like the one for North Jutland. The group had performances and workshops but this time with social workers.

Most of you might be wondering why CHIPAWO went to Denmark with youths between the ages of 18 and 22 and yet we are well known for working with children. CHIPAWO has embarked on a Youth Programme which was established as a social responsibility project. The main aim of the programme is to assist out of school youths by involving them in CHIPAWO activities thus creating employment. The youths can also take advantage of the training opportunities available in the organisation by applying stating which area they want to specialise in for example, one can choose to be part of the Musical Instruments Manufacturing Project (MMP) were they can specialise either in the manufacturing of marimba, mbira or drums (ngoma).

Notable achievements of the of the programme include the New Horizon Theatre Company, Cool Steel- steel band and CHIPAWO graduates who specialise performances. Since CHIPAWO has 82 centres in Zimbabwe it is still targeting youths who were once in CHIPAWO at some point in their life but we hope in the near future we will be able to target all the youths in Zimbabwe.

*Bridget Chimboza is the Media Officer for CHIPAWO and she is based at the CHIPAWO Media Centre in Mt. Pleasant

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