It seems witnessing artistes performing again (at least with a limited number of audience), remains a pipedream, as lately, the government has again banned public gatherings, something which has brought a huge blow to the local arts sector.
At least, some of the arts industry genres had an opportunity to grace the stage and showcase their talent especially those who were part of the second edition of the Bulawayo Arts Festival (BAF).
However, some sectors like theatre, were robbed of an opportunity to “feel” the stage, as when President Mnangagwa gave a green light for artistes to hold shows on a capacity of 50 spectators, the decision was later reversed in 48 hours.
Even Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAA) shifted the dates for this year’s festivity from 28 August to 6 November, with one of the reasons being to “…. give time to other genres like theatre to showcase their work as they have been grossly affected by Covid 19”.
Theatre is nothing without physical audience.
There must be a connection between the cast and those on terraces as the two must depend on each other, to keep the cast on character, and for the audience to evoke feelings on the presentation of the play.
As some genres, like music have mastered the skill of doing things virtually due to restrictions brought about by Covid-19, the same cannot be said about theatre.
B-Metro showbiz caught up with celebrated teacher and theatre practitioner Thabani H Moyo and he noted that theatre had become silent under the lockdown.
“The banning of live events is sad. However, we have to acknowledge that Covid 19 is real and has impacted negatively and reversed some important gains that the theatre sector had made.
“Under the lockdown, theatre went silent. Only a few serious works were produced and these were streamed live on Facebook and of course attracted a few likes.
“We had Dick Print which had two live shows when the lockdown rules were relaxed, a great piece of work, and the play was set for great performances but unfortunately it’s back to the drawing board,” said Moyo.
Going digital is the answer. However, Moyo has mixed feelings over taking that direction.
“We are now faced with the biggest challenge as a theatre sector. The answer lies in digital theatre as it is the new space that we need to create as a sector.
“It is not a secret that theatre has always suffered from low following in this country and going to digital space will make things worse as we will have a challenge to convince audiences to follow theatre on digital spaces,” said Moyo.
At least Moyo was privileged to have one of his plays Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo the musical (where he contributes as a writer), presenting a “snippet” of the play at BAF.
The play is starred with a well experienced cast and crew, and Moyo is grateful for being part of it.
“Being part of the play is exciting. It is a rare opportunity. There is a lot of work especially when it comes to facts surrounding Lozikeyi.
“She is enigmatic and as a writer you want to simplify her to the audiences and that is an interesting challenge. The project is a journey that I look forward to and I am already imagining a splendid ending,” said Moyo.