NICHOLAS KAWINGA, Lusaka
THE Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) youth drama group was on stage at Lusaka Playhouse last week with a play, Out of Pain, written and directed by Emmanuel Kalambo, with Honest Kanyanta as his co-director.
The play, a social commentary on HIV/AIDS issues, was put together without a thorough consideration of what angle the story should take to be believable. Well, these are young people teaching themselves the art of theatre, so, may be, let’s approach this review differently, and instead focus ourselves on how we can help identify and grow new talent.
The performance was a good effort and an honest shout out for assistance by the young artistes to grind sharp their skills.
However, that these youths managed to show a production, and of a variety of poetry recital, folk-music and a play at that, was enough a laudable effort. This was a matinee show, although not a full-house, it had quite an audience of its own.
Most importantly, the National Theatre Arts Association of Zambia (NATAAZ) chairman Boyd Kaimbi was in attendance, and we hope he noted the latent talent and the artistic energy that needs to be harnessed.
The budding playwright and directors obviously require skills to adequately and correctly guide the general membership. And this, should not wait until there is a NATAAZ Festival; a workshop could be arranged separately for the group. Without needing a huge budget, just water apiece and a volunteer resource person, it could be done.
The government has repeatedly reiterated that the arts could be turned into a major employer for most young people, especially to these who are already exhibiting talent. But for it to happen, we need great will from the people leading the arts associations. We require a cadre of young people to help the country grow and develop the sector into a viable arts Industry that would benefit artistes and the country through revenue collection.
Well, like earlier stated, these writers, poets, play directors and actors need to be exposed to some basic but important theatre principles, like Aristotle’s dramatic unity of time, place and action. In what era, period or year is the story set, are the events in the play agreeing with the time given? Think of a mobile phone put in a play set in 1972 Lusaka, for instance. Would fiction and fact agree?
In the play, Out of Pain, set in 2015, there is a medical doctor who does not understand HIV/AIDS mitigation measures, and the audience is at a loss. But one has to appreciate, these are young talents crying out for help, otherwise, it would not work as true.
The dramatic unity of place; where is the play set? Lusaka, if so, where in Lusaka, Roma or Chawama, or does it cover both Roma and Chawama? Then, the action in the scenes must be distinguishable from each other very clearly to help the story reflect something believable.
On the action, what is the motivation, how about cause and effect, costume and other paraphernalia in use; there must always be the combined dramatic unity of time, place and action for a play to succeed.
How does an actor cry or cook anger for the whole duration of the play, without a moment of respite. It cannot be true. Life is not fairly represented in such a production. Yes, theatre is supposed to mirror society and it should be a fair transaction, or the young people need to be guided.
The YWCA youth also performed some poetry and some folk-music, this critic might not be an expert in musical arts, but when youths are strumming an acoustic guitar and mumbling some tune that is sweet, well, live music, can be infectious, and these kids need encouragement.
Of poetry and recitals, am at home, and have always contended that young people must be let to write and recite their own poetry as opposed to adults writing for them.
Youths have interests and concerns to present and celebrate that which squarely affect them, they can do it better themselves unlike a situation where school groups have reduced poetry to a tool and vehicle for complaints and lamentations.
Poetry should sometimes exhibit things that bring about beauty in life and our communities.
It is surely a good thing for the YWCA to encourage youths to engage and ply in the production of plays, poetry and music; we had a great treat of entertainment from the raw talent.