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Sam Kasankha calls for action to rescue playhouse

FOLLOWING revelations that the Lusaka Theatre Club is falling apart, award-winning playwright and director Samuel Kasankha has called for action to rescue the playhouse from collapse.
However, Kasankha, a former Lusaka Playhouse productions director, also believes that artistes are generally to blame for not acting to rescue the little theatre.
“I find it laughable that we ‘artistes’, particularly theatre practitioners, are always looking for someone to ‘rescue’ Lusaka Playhouse from its current state. Laughable because we the so-called artists have let ourselves down by always paying lip-service to the problem at hand,” Kasankha, a former theatre columnist, says.
“I will argue at any given time that very few of us have the mental resource and acumen to confront the problem of the playhouse, simple as I believe it may be to comprehend. How many of us have attempted to become members of the co-operative society, which owns the playhouse, and aside to filling in application forms, have gone all the way and paid the K500 membership fee [which by law procures you ‘shares’]? Very few.
“That place needs as many of us as have mouths to complain, to organise ourselves, buy shares, thereby increasing the financial base from which activities, including theatrical productions, can start.
“There are only 22 paid-up members and their shares are insufficient as a fundraiser to sustain operations,” Kasankha said.
He said even with rentals being paid by tenants, the place has a workforce, which must be paid; its wages, besides electricity, land rates and statutory contributions.
Kasankha said productions go unsupported with groups, including the playhouse, incurring losses.
“None of us are willing to act in plays or perform other production chores without being paid. So even doing a play is at a huge cost. Kakraba, our last production, had a budget close to K30,000.
“Where do the monies come from, or where do we get volunteer actors? Let us be realistic and explore the real problem and how we can take over and revive the place,” he said.