Theatre in the Park in retrospect

HARARE - Last year was a bumper one for Theatre in the Park generally recognised by many as the hub of Zimbabwean theatre.

The country’s premier house of theatre produced a minimum of one play per month that ran for no less than a week.

Theatre in the Park, run by Rooftop Promotions, however, had to endure persistent bans of its plays and arrests of its actors.

Rooftop’s play, The Coup written by Stanley Makuwe, in which dead people rise up to confront the country’s president for running down the country, was banned in November from showcasing in Bindura and Gweru.

Just before the banning of The Coup, a play by Tafadzwa Muzondo of Edzai Isu Theatre House called No Voice No Choice was barred from the Chimanimani Arts Festival and also from showing in Masvingo.

Both plays had been initially cleared but the police surprisingly backtracked and reneged on their earlier promise to let the plays be taken on nationwide tours.

On a positive note, in November Rooftop Promotions managed to bring to Zimbabwe an acclaimed South African playwright Mncedisi Shabangu to conduct workshops for actors, producers and directors.

Shabangu also managed to get local actors to feature in his play, Ten Bush teaching them different aspects of theatre from what they were used to.

Rooftop also facilitated workshops for Zimbabwean theatre personnel conducted by renowned American actor William O’Leary.

O’ Leary has featured in popular films including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and many others.

Theatre In the Park’s best find of the season is arguably Anthony Mazhetese. The talented rookie actor played the role of Simon in Ten Bush, a play written by award-winning South African playwright, actor and director Mncedisi Shabangu.

Mazhetese produced a star performance alongside fellow Zimbabwean actors that included Nothando Nobengula, Getrude Munhamo, Caroline Mashingaidze, Vusa Dzimasha and Eddington Hatitongwe.

Another brilliant new comer was Nothando Nobengula who played Maneta in the play, Roki and Maneta.

The young woman from Bulawayo impressed with her portrayal of Big Brother contestant Maneta in the play.

Roki, whose talent as a musician is common knowledge, showed that he is an equally gifted actor. He co-starred alongside Nobengula.

But the best actor for 2012 has to be Teddy Mangawa, for his role in Diamonds in His Sons’ Grave.

Teddy brilliantly played the role of Solomon Zinyemba, a serial drunkard with the ability to speak his mind out in a sensible manner despite his apparent drunken stupor.

Teddy’s acting was so convincing that after the premier a member of the audience had to ask him whether he was sober throughout the whole play.

To the amazement of everyone present, Rooftop Director, Daves Guzha said Teddy is in fact a teetotaller who does not take any intoxicating substances at all.

Revered actor Eunice Tava, who brilliantly directed the play, Diamonds In His Son’s Grave can safely be named last year’s the best director.

The script of Wusiku by New-Zealand based Stanley Makuwe was last year’s top of the crop.

Susan Haines’ coming out of retirement to direct the play, Audience written by the late Czech Republic president, Vàclav Havel provided a major highlight for Zimbabwe’s theatre lovers as was Daves Guzha’s acting in Protest.

Guzha is now mainly a director but the way he executed his role in Protest clearly showed that he still has what it takes to cut it out as an actor.

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