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The Excitement Of Learning Outside The Classroom

IMG-20160511-WA0002One of the most exciting moments at Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo is the Live Literature Sessions by Centre For Talent Development (CTD). In 2015 alone about 3000 O’ and A’ level students from schools as far as Plumtree, Lupane and Filabusi thronged Bulawayo Theatre to watch live stage performances of various literature setbooks by this group of amazing actors. Most of the students who watched the various performance said the experience was fun, exciting and made school work more enjoyable – which is essentially what The Live Literature Project is all about. Making learning fun and enjoyable for the students.

The driving philosophy behind the project is that ‘plays were never meant to be just read and studied in the classroom but were meant to be performed live on stage’. Even the great Shakespeare did not see his work confined to the four walls of the classroom and subjected to endless scrutiny by both teachers and students. As a playwright he always saw actors and audiences interacting and enjoying the products of his creativity. The project seeks to use live theatre to simplify or give a better understanding of the literature texts being studied in schools and colleges. In the last years the project has added adaptations to its list of plays.

Since our education system is focused on passing national examinations The Live Literature Project

Scene from Colour of Hope

                           Scene from Colour of Hope

tries to help students achieve this goal while at the same time experiencing the true magical moments of theatre. This theatre-in-education project is a learning platform for both the young actors that act out the plays and the students that come to watch them. It is a platform to learn away from the classroom- giving everyone the chance to learn and think beyond the classroom set-up. More importantly to enjoy while at it.

Centre For Talent Development members are Elton Sibanda, Nokwanda Sibanda, Charmaine  Mudau, Musa Sibanda, Lesley Masuku, Sheron Buru, Cedric Msongelwa, Ronald Sgeca, Dalton Ngubeni, Belinda Dube, Agnes Ncube, Anita Moyo, Faith E. Moyo, Bathabile Dlamini, Sithabile Ndubiwa and Winston Tsotsonga,

Scene from Master Harold & the Boys

Scene from Master Harold & the Boys

The List of Plays for 2016

  1. The Colour of Hope. This is an A ‘level set book written by Taban lo Liyong. It was written as a partial response to the disturbances that followed the Kenyan general elections of 2007. In this play culture is put to the microscope. This is an inspiring and unflattering literary commentary of post-colonial Africa at the dawn of the 21st
  2. Master Harold & The Boys (O’level setbook) One of Athol Fugard’s masterpieces. The play takes place in South Africa during the Apartheid Era and depicts how institutionalised racism, bigotry or hate become absorbed by those who live under it.IMG-20160516-WA0009
  3. The Sun Will Rise Again. (O’level Setbook) The play is an adaptation of George Mujajati’s novel of the same name. The play looks at economic and moral decay as well as the frustrations and betrayals that came with independence.
  4. Dancing in the Dust. (A ‘level setbook) Another adaption from the novel of the same name by Kagiso Lesego Molope. Set is in the 1980s during the time of school boycotts, stayaways, bloody police crackdowns and hippos in the streets. A gripping tale about the struggle for freedom seen through the eyes a young girl.

All the plays are produced and performed by Centre For Talent Development (CTD). The performance are scheduled for 26 September -1 October 2016 at Bulawayo Theatre. For bookings call 09 -63928 or 0772 814 185

**Images by Mgcini Photography

INTWASA CLOSES CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Last week, on the 30th of April, Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo stopped accepting applications for theINTWASA CLOSED 2016 edition. As usual there were one on two artists that submitted their applications a day or two after the deadline. The excuses were too numerous and always the same – almost believable. As Intwasa and a people’s festival we accepted the late entries without prejudice. And to be honest some of them were actually good submissions.

The 2016 edition of Intwasa is obviously going to take place in a very difficult environment – in its current form the economy does not favour the hosting of any big event. (Remember HIFA did not happen this year) Intwasa 2016 will take place, not because the festival has funding, but because we believe in doing the festival by any means necessary – big or small it doesn’t matter. We also believe that critical art blossoms in times of difficulty and challenges hence our theme this year – EXPRESSIONS.  Let this year be the year where the festival is a platform for those suppressed voices wanting to say something, for those fears to come out. Let it also be the platform for the nation’s dreams to be expressed.

This year saw an increase in applications. In fact they came in floods. We are still trying to find a good reason for this overwhelming response to our call.
1. Was the amazing response a result of the growing reputation of the festival?
2. Or was it because of social media and the easiness with which people now share information?
3. Or was it because HIFA did not happen and artists are looking for a bigger platform to showcase their works?
4. Or was it because of the fact that in times of crisis the arts flourish and get bigger?

IMG_1589Applications came from Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Zambia, UK, Netherlands and most creative parts of Zimbabwe – Bulawayo, Harare, Mutare, Hwange to name a few.  The majority of the applications were in music, theatre and spoken word genres. More interesting though was not just the increase in the number of applications, but the quality of the applications. The quality is amazing. Reading some of the applications it was clear the applicants had read and understood our  theme for this year and what we intend to do come September. Most proposals spoke to our theme and desires. It was refreshing to read proposals that try to sell products, not group names and group profiles. Proposals that explained how the artists thought their product fitted into our 2016 theme – Expressions.

Now that the applications are at the office, Intwasa takes the moment to thank all artists and artistes’ managers who took their time and effort to apply to the festival. We appreciate, not only your desire to work with us, but the effort you put in all your applications. Successful artists will be notified in due course.

An Experience at the International Festival Academy Edinburgh

In March this year I was very lucky to attend the first International Festival Academy in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The one week festival management course is organized by Festivals Edinburgh in partnership with the British Council. My participation at the academy was courtesy of Intwasa’s long standing partnership with British Council Zimbabwe. My experience in Scotland, especially at the academy, was more than mind changing. Both my eyes were opened wide – and I got to look at festivals, even Intwasa itself, with new eyes. One of the major lessons I got from the one week learning experience was that festivals cannot be divorced first from the places in which they take place and secondly festivals can only make sense if they add meaning and value to the lives of the communities in which they take place. A big lesson indeed, especially for someone curating a project like Intwasa that sees itself as a community festival and project.Raisedon Baya2

My second big lesson was that it was very possible for more than one festivals to coexist and flourish in one city. Edinburgh itself has about 12 festivals that take place within a year and these coexist and try as much as possible to complement each other. The more the merrier. Actually, the more festivals the city hosts, the more employment opportunities created for artists and those who work behind the scenes during festivals.  I remember, during one of the breaks in lessons, reflecting on Intwasa, Ibumba and other arts initiatives like Voices of Colour working together to push Bulawayo arts and cultural activities to higher levels without trying to compete with each other. Was this even possible? I wondered. But if Edinburgh can bring 12 festivals to work together why can’t Intwasa and Ibumba lead in creating synergies that could benefit the city of Bulawayo artistically and culturally? If Edinburgh could do it then it was also possible for Bulawayo to do it!

My third lesson was that most festivals are almost the same. Most are going through the same challenges. Before travelling to the academy I was of the opinion that festivals in Africa had unique problems because of their geographical, political and economic landscape. How wrong I was. The 24 festivals represented at the academy came from the five contents – Africa, Asia, Europe, and South and North America. All 24 were diverse and different. However, almost all had similar challenges – challenges of funding, audiences, creating new markets, growth and relevance. Finding these common challenges made it easier to mix and share experiences.

The academy course was structured such that there was balance between theory and practice. All mornings were dedicated to theory – mostly lectures on fundraising, programming and marketing. All practical work was left for the afternoon. This was when participants visited different festivals, festival venues and other venues to get first-hand information and practical tips from practitioners. It was during these field trips that we got exciting tips on the business of running festivals. Afternoon sessions were more fun as the visits were structured in such a way that they enabled participants to see the city of Edinburgh, more as a cultural landscape than just another European city. As participants we saw a lot and got to absorb a lot of the city’s cultural life.

Besides the three big lessons mentioned above here are other lessons learnt from the International Festivals Academy. I learnt:

  1. The importance of striking a balance between passion and business models when running a festival. The only way festivals can be sustainable is when they are run like businesses.
  2. The Importance of linking city narratives to the festival as this usual helps with a concrete identity for the festival.
  3. The advantages of running festivals as a team. Successful festivals are run by a well-oiled team with different but complimentary skills.
  4. The importance of collaborations with anyone who shares the vision of the festivals.
  5. The importance of finding different sources of funding. Relying on one or two sources can be dangerous, particularly in the current situation where international funders are shifting their priorities.
  6. The importance of networking.

The five day course was highly beneficial and a life changing experience. This is an experience I would recommend to anyone running or thinking of running a festival anywhere in the world. It was a very relevant course on festival management.

Written by

 

Raisedon Baya – Festival Director 

INTWASA ARTS FESTIVAL koBULAWAYO

WE ARE ALL ABOUT EXPRESSIONS

Perfomance during Intwasa official opening

Dear reader, and by extension festival goer, if you are reading this article and you have a calendar or diary near you please mark the following dates – 26 September to 1 October 2016. These are the official Intwasa dates. Notice that for the first time in the history of the festival we have encroached into October. But this doesn’t take away the fact that Intwasa is a September festival.

Now pursuant with festival objectives, particularly objectives 1, 4 and 5 which are:

  • To celebrate human creativity, expression and diversity.
  • To facilitate the empowerment of youths, women and children through the arts
  • To create alternative spaces for new ideas and freedom of expression

 Intwasa 2016 will focus on transforming the festival space into an innovative and creative territory for

The Intwasa Fashion Show - design by Thembani Mubochwa

celebrating human EXPRESSION, particularly the diversity of EXPRESSION. Emphasis will be on creating new and exciting spaces within the festival to promote and advocate for diverse EXPRESSIONS, but with a major thrust on freedom of expression, thought, and creativity. Intwasa 2016 will strive to create spaces that will challenge festival audiences and artists out of their comfort zones into unfamiliar and un-chanted territory.

Every person is born wanting to express themselves. Throughout our lives we express ourselves in different ways – the clothes we wear, our hair, literature, art, and other forms. EXPRESSION is an in born instinct. Hence our theme this year is EXPRESSIONS.

With EXPRESSIONS we look forward to challenging and inspiring social and political debate around constitutional rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience and creativity. 2016 is the year for artists to engage passionately and honestly in dialogue around the past and present.

Lady Tshawe performing during Women, Wine & Words

According to the new Zimbabwean constitution (Amendment No. 20 – ACT 2013)

  1. Every person has a right to freedom of expression, which includes
  2. Freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information.
  3. Freedom of artistic expression and scientific research and creativity.
  4. Every person has a right to freedom of conscience, which includes
  5. Freedom of thought, opinion, religion or belief.
  6. Freedom to practice and propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion, religion or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others.

Freedom of expression, thought and creativity has been a topic of discussion for many years since the birth of independent Zimbabwe. The discussion has always bordered on safety and human rights. Freedom of expression is probably one of the most important rights in the Zimbabwean constitution. Dialogue around freedom of expression, thought and creativity is always a war. A war against laws limiting freedom, and against limiting environments.

Willis Watafi at Intwasa official opening

However, it is a war that is very critical to the survival of democracy and progress not only in Zimbabwe but the world over. Art needs to challenge and provoke. According to one Polish writer, “Art does not do good deeds, but it is more like a disease, a virus, which comes to bother, rather than comfort or confirm, so that we can feel safe.”  Now, more than ever, art needs to bring clarity of direction and lucidity of purpose as far as national debates/dialogue are concerned.

Intwasa Craft Fair

The 2016 theme is premised on the belief that an artist, like any other individual in society, cannot be divorced from the events going on in his society or the historical events of his nation. A true artist represents the true eye and ear of the nation. As eyes, the artist must sharply focus on the conflicts and sufferings of his people and as ears he must hear the cries and distressed appeal for equality, justice, and peace.  But for artists to be able to be both the eyes and ears of nation there must be freedom of expression, thought, conscience and creativity

 

RAISEDON BAYA

FESTIVAL DIRECTOR

 

Targeting 30 000 people visiting Intwasa 2016

DSC_6981The New Year is upon us and as we celebrate it half the mind is already thinking about Intwasa 2016. Things being equally we should actually be announcing the 2016 edition programme or at least the headline acts with this blog article. In countries where the arts are serious business festivals are programmed a year or two in advance. If you google search some festivals today you can actually see full programmes for events that are eight or ten months away. Unfortunately, with local festivals one has to scrounge around for resources first before making commitments and announcements. And this always results in local festival releasing programmes to the public just a few weeks before everything happens.

Some years ago we had a fierce argument with one local scholar who had spent a few years outside 4Zimbabwe and had just come back. She suggested that local festival organizers are poor planners. Her assumption was that the failure by most festivals to have programmes out say six months before the actual events took place was proof enough of their failure to plan. Most festival organizers present on that day did not take kindly to her assumptions. The truth is big artists commit where resources are available. With local festivals 80% of the time is spent looking for resources. Half the time festival organizers are not even sure their festivals will take place as resources only come in a month or two before.

6So here we are in the second week of January 2016 wanting to at least announce to the world festival dates and the 2016 theme but unable to. At least not until the end of January. But rest assured that we are already thinking and planning about this year’s edition. The 2016 edition marks the 12th edition of Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo. We know very much that it is now a tired cliché to say this year’s edition will be bigger and better. So we shall skip that. All we can boldly say is that this year we are aiming at getting 30 000 people visit the seven venues of this year’s festival where as usual about 50 events will be curated. 30 000 people is our magic phrase for 2016. Of course, the general objective of the festival remains the same; to celebrate human creativity and cultural diversity. While we do this we also want to market Bulawayo as a tourist destination.

Yes. The festival has a huge potential to market Bulawayo and its heritage cites. It can give it priceless 5visibility. In other countries festivals are known to be serious drivers of cultural tourism. There is enough proof to show how festivals have impacted on people and places and brought good income to some cities. We honestly believe that it is time Intwasa Arts Festival, the City of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority seriously partner in selling the following places not only to the people of Bulawayo but to the outside world as well; Amakhosi Cultural Centre, Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre, National Museum, Amagugu Heritage Centre, Khami Ruins, Chipangali Orphanage and Matopos.

The steps to Intwasa 2016 begin now. Be part of the 30 000 festival audience this year.

 

Raisedon Baya

Festival Director

 

9 reasons why Bulawayo should support Intwasa

September is here and the annual arts extravaganza known as Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo is upon us. For a full week the city of Bulawayo shall reverberate with the sound of music, the stomping of feet and excited ululation and whistling as hundreds of artistes from different places and countries gather for the 11th edition of one of Zimbabwe’s top arts festivals.

Intwasa is a people’s festival as it was created by local cultural professionals, sons and daughters of the city, with a specific mandate to spearhead arts development while marketing Bulawayo as a cultural hub and a tourist destination. Over 500 artists, including schools students, are performing at this year’s edition of the festival.

Here are some reasons why Bulawayo should support the festival:

  • More than fifty (50) events shall take place during the six day arts extravaganza.
  • Hundreds of local artistes get to showcase their talents before a home audience.
  • Over 50% of the events are free, giving access to the general public, especially poor residents who ordinarily cannot afford ticket prices for some of the acts when they are done outside the festival. Access to arts and culture has been proven to help promote social cohesion and improve standards of living for people.
  • The festival is a platform to explore local and regional collaborations and cultural exchanges and networking with the aim of improving the status of artists.
  • The festival has become a critical platform for the democratisation of arts and culture in Zimbabwe.
  • Intwasa’s involvement with schools has invigorated arts activities in schools, particularly drama. The festival’s schools drama competition supported by Plan Zimbabwe has attracted over sixty schools and seen thousands of students participate.
  • Apart from the High Schools Drama intwasa has now introduced choral and dance platform for both primary and secondary schools.
  • The festival can create visibility and positive images of the city and its people.
  • The festival temporarily provides employment to youths and artists.

Intwasa believes festivals are judged by their audiences and it is only when the city and its residents fully embraces the festival that it can take its rightful place among Zimbabwe and Africa’s top festival.

Africa Revenge’s Homecoming Show @Intwasa 2015

It has become the norm with many festivals that the official opening event is huge and eye catching. For example Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) is known for its spectacular opening shows coupled with spellbinding fireworks. The official opening night is viewed by many as eye candy for festival audiences. Intwasa also thrives for nothing less. In the last few years the festival’s opening shows have been huge and become the talk of Bulawayo many weeks after the festival itself. If one hasn’t seen any of the opening shows then one hasn’t seen Intwasa at all. The opening show normally sets the mood and tone of the whole festival. For many, especially those in the media, it has always been the bar to measure the success and failure of the festival.

One of the Official Opening Shows

One of the Official Opening Show

So what is in store for Intwasa audiences in 2015. First and more importantly is the fact that the Bulawayo Combined Ensemble, comprising of dance and music artists taken from different Bulawayo groups, has become a permanent feature at Intwasa. More interesting is the fact that this year the combined ensemble is showcasing a choreography of Zimbabwean dances recently taken to Millan, Spain by one of the ministries. Intwasa 2015 audiences are privileged to sample this choreography by Bulawayo’s son and talented choreographer Richard Ndlovu and directed by Simon Mambazo Phiri. Both Richard Ndlovu and Simon Mambazo Phiri recently collaborated on the opening of the Zone Six Africa Games which took place in Bulawayo in 2014 and their skills were noticed by many.

The big performance of the evening will obviously be by Afrika Revenge who last performed in Bulawayo some 9 years ago. Since their coming together after the split that left many fans feeling robbed and confused Africa Revenge has not set foot on any stage in Bulawayo. The band has performed in Harare and other places and this performance at Intwasa will be the official homecoming show for the band that once set the whole country on fire with such songs as WangaMemo and Buwe Buwe. Afrika Revenge is a Bulawayo band. It was born in the city and went to find fame in Harare. Their special performance at Intwasa reinforces the never – say-die attitude of the festival and its endeavours to bring joy, laughter and hope the midst of despair.

Watch the official opening show on the 23rd of September 2015 at the City Hall Car Park at 7pm sharp.

 

THIS INTWASA, OUR INTWASA, BULAWAYO’S INTWASA

INTWASA ARTS FESTIVAL KoBULAWAYO is one of Zimbabwe’s premiere arts gatherings curating about 50 events within a week. The festival is a multi –discipline arts fiesta that celebrates human diversity and creativity. Running under the theme My Intwasa, Your Intwasa, Our Intwasa the 11th edition of the festival is set for 21 -26 September 2015 at different venues within Bulawayo’s Central Business District. The venues are a walking distance from each other.

Intwasa is held in September. This month is very significant to the people of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe in general. September marks the beginning of spring. Spring is the season of regeneration and rebirth. A season for new beginnings and new life. A season of bloom, happiness and celebration.

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Festivals all over the world are curated for different reasons and they serve different purposes. But there is no doubt about their importance in the different communities they are held. Festivals have become the most popular way to promote the arts and connect arts lovers. Most festivals are platforms for celebration while others, like Intwasa, have become critical players in the democratisation of the arts – particularly in Zimbabwe.

Festivals are about good art, good times and creating good memories.
Festival are about creating human dialogue.
Festivals are about connecting – people connecting with the past, present and future, people connecting with different spaces and narratives.
Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbours into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, and they improve our general psychological wellbeing. In short, they bring a bright spark of light to an otherwise daily and monotonous routine of living.

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Intwasa Arts Festival is one of the few cultural highlights of the city of Bulawayo. The city is a wonderful place – peaceful, scenic, and rich in songs, stories, heritage and history.

As in previous editions the 11th edition program has workshops, networking platforms, schools programming, platforms for emerging artists and the usual events that have been popular in the last ten editions.