'Banning plays is an ostrich mentality'

BULAWAYO - Multi-talented Bulawayo-based playwright and arts educator Thabani Hillary Moyo (TM) has made a mark on the City of Kings’ arts landscape.

The Daily News on Sunday’s Bulawayo reporter Jeffrey Muvundusi (JM) recently spoke to him on his career and a variety of arts aspects.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

JM: Who is Thabani Moyo?

TM: Thabani Moyo is a theatre lover, a playwright, a theatre trainer, arts critic, an educator as well as a theatre director.

JM: How did you evolve from being a mere high school teacher to a respected multi-talented arts personality?

TM: To tell the truth there are times when l find it difficult to say who l am- a teacher or an artiste? I have settled to be called a teaching artiste. Teaching artiste makes me feel better. I have combined the arts and the teaching profession because l feel the two are powerful areas that can help me achieve my purpose in life. I teach because l believe it’s a calling, meaning l am a teacher by creation. I am at the same time an artiste because the arts, or telling stories through theatre is the only way l can share my experiences, personal feelings and my world view with the people.Theatre for me is a powerful tool which cannot be ignored.

JM: A few years back you together with Intwasa Arts Festival director Raisedon Baya you came up with the Centre For Talent Development. What’s the vision which drives this initiative?

TM: The Centre For Talent Development (CTD) occupies the deepest part in my heart. Our vision is that it should become home of the arts. The concept was inspired by the availability of young talent in Bulawayo. We realised that most of these young talented people did not have platforms to nurture and develop their talents to the fullest so we decided to create that space. Our main aim is to keep young people who have just finished school productive and focused. We also want to come up with a learned artiste, an artist who will respect their trade. Most of our recruits therefore are studying with various institutions across the country.

JM: Since CTD was formed can you say you have achieved your intended goals?

TM: There is a lot that we are yet to achieve as C TD. At the moment our main project is The Live Literature Project which has kept us going for the past few years and has become so popular with schools. Our next area is Children Theatre which we aim to do at international level. I can say in terms of training and coming up with quality works of art we are satisfied. Most of our actors have featured in professional works. Recently two of our actresses went to National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa.

JM: At Eveline High school where you teach you are credited with introducing arts education in a big way. What inspired you to do this?

TM: Let me start by saying that Eveline as a school has been a source of inspiration for me. When l looked at the infrastructure at the school ideas came to my mind. For me the school great hall became a theatre of dreams, a place l could use to experiment with learners. I did not want the space to be a white elephant. I proposed the introduction of theatre as a subject for junior classes. I also asked to use the space for Drama Club rehearsals in the afternoons. I ended having rehearsals even on weekends. My love for theatre spread to the learners. Eveline became home for theatre. In a short period schools in Bulawayo followed Eveline’s example and introduced arts education. Right now there is curriculum review and one of the learning areas to be introduced in schools at national level is theatre arts. So you can see that l and Eveline are well ahead of schedule.

JM: Can you name any students who are products of your arts education programme?

National Arts Merit Award (Nama) winner in the Best Actress in Theatre Bathabile Dlamini got all her training at Eveline High School. Debra Hlabangana who is a television presenter for ZBC went through the theatre programmes at Eveline. It is at Eveline that she discovered herself. The likes of Mbonisi Mahonondo, better known as Mbo Mahocs, also had a stint at Eveline. The list is endless.

JM: Last year you were in Australia and recently you were in Germany on arts business. Can you share with us your experiences on the International scene?

TM: Every time l am out there l will be seeking knowledge and future partners. Australia and Germany are developed countries hence their standards are very high. There is increased use of digital technology in their works of art. I learnt quite a lot in my travels and l also got inspired.

JM: Are you happy with your work as a playwright?

TM: Yes l have written a number of plays but l believe my best is yet to come. The standard l set last year with Umbiko KaMaDlenya haunts me. My next play has to match that if not better. I can’t afford to write just another play.

JM: At one point one of your plays “The Civil Servant” was banned. What did that mean to you as an artist?

TM: Surely the reason why The Civil servant was banned in Gwanda still evades me. We were told that the play was not government-friendly. So the festival organisers stopped it. The Civil Servant for is a simple adaptation of The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller told in the light of a Zimbabwean civil servant. Banning plays that portray our past situations and our future fears as a nation is an ostrich mentality. The lives of workers in general and civil servants in particular have been and continue to be miserable even today. When the play was scrapped from the programme l felt suffocated because my freedom of expression was infringed upon.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.