'Venue closure affected Zim theatre'

HARARE - Rooftop Promotions director Daves Guzha claims the 2012 closure of Theatre in the Park that his organisation had run in the Harare Gardens for 17 years affected the livelihoods of 900 people.

Guzha told the Daily News that the impact of the closure of one of Zimbabwe’s leading theatre brands has been underestimated.

“Theatre in the Park is more than a Rooftop brand; it is the very symbol of what professional theatre could be in Zimbabwe,” said Guzha.

“We know for a fact that every theatre professional aspires to work with Theatre in the Park. Despite the critical role we play in Zimbabwean theatre, we just found ourselves without an operational space.”

Guzha revealed that Theatre in the Park annually played host to about 15 productions with an average cast of six actors.

“In any production it is a given that it is built by 10 people. 10 people multiplied by 15 productions that is 150 people directly affected. If you are working on a typical Zimbabwean model, each one of these people has an average family of six, so that means 900 livelihoods were directly affected by the closure of Theatre in the Park.”

The Rooftop director added that the negative impact of the closure extended beyond the Zimbabwean capital city.

“Suddenly, Harare which had become the bedrock for theatre in the country found itself having just four or five productions in a year which did not have a regular run in a venue. We could no longer host shows for theatre houses from outside Harare. There were also no shows that were developed for festivals.

“We missed out on a lot projects because the economy was on the mend and people’s disposal income was getting better. In 2012, we were having more plays and then suddenly there was nowhere to showcase plays,” he said.

Theatre in the Park was closed down two years ago after the relationship between Rooftop Promotions and the venue owner Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) irreparably broke down over $2 000 rent arrears and failure to agree on a new lease agreement.

Rooftop Promotions has reportedly begun constructing a 500-seater theatre in the Harare Gardens.


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