Happenings in theatre houses countrywide

Spotlight on Performing arts: JOHN KAPESA
THANK you to the Zambia Daily Mail administration for allowing this column, and particularly for letting me run it beginning today

and the coming Fridays – primarily to expose those in the creative industry, the artists.
I will endeavour to share information; mainly promote, stimulate, foster, exhibit, profile, display, reveal and offer critical views on various matters of the performing arts and artists in Zambia. I will look at theatre, which is one of my staple areas, the local film as another core matter here, poetry, traditional song and dance, music or folklores and all other genres of dance and music as well as other creative arts which may not literally be of a performing nature; they all need exposure; uncovering, disclosure, sharing and spotlighting.
The last three months I have been idling, I have observed a couple of events and play shows exhibited in our various theatre houses. Chingola Arts Society (CAS) recently showed Evans Kalandanya’s ‘When it pains most’ followed by ‘Eat and run’ by Alick Chileshe. CAS, in the offing, has Chileshe’s ‘The revelation’ directed by Memory Kasweshi and set to premiere on July 1 at Chingola Arts Society.
Nkana-Kitwe Arts Society (NKAS), not far away, staged Banery Kanjela’s ‘Passover’, while currently under rehearsal is Pamela Hojane’s production ‘Please mother, don’t cry’ with Light Musonda’s two minimalist plays ‘Change’ and ‘A man as good as me’ doing the rounds.
I watched ‘Change’ at Mpelembe Secondary School last month and still believe the young audience was one of the hugest and finest that followed the performance with considerable good audience behaviour.
When spoken to, the young audience, numbering more than 700, claimed they watched the play out of curiosity as most activities at the school were general music dances, poetic recitals and debates.
Lusaka Playhouse has hosted a few plays, among them Leo Simukoko’s ‘The pastor and the harlot’, Samuel Kasankha’s ‘Oh my God’, ‘Shades of my villages’ by Masuku Chamunorua, ‘Alilele’, ‘Let Lela go’, with Chibwe Katebe’s comedy shows dubbed ‘The divas comedy’, followed by the ushering in of the new leadership led by BJ Phiri as chairman and Isaac Kalumba as treasurer.
Elsewhere, other events have been unfolding; in April, led by Rodgers Mwewa, MP for Mwansabombwe and as chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting and Information, toured the country on a fact-finding mission to establish the challenges artists face in the film industry and establish why the industry is not flourishing.
I attended the exchange of notes hosted by Mufulira Little Theatre during which Rodgers said his team’s experiences around the country were closely the same – the answer lies in Government recognising the creative industry with a deliberate budgetary allocation.
It is believed local films have potential viewers in our sitting rooms at home, but sadly for lack of promotions, few indigenous themes and stories see the end of day on our screens. The sad spectra are that few corporate institutions support the theatre and film industry.
With the findings already under wrap, Rodgers said Parliament will deliberate over them and finally agree to make a decision on how Government can strongly go into it and help promote the film industry and other arts.
Without much ado, the film industry is a potential job creator with a huge resource of writers, actors, directors, costume and prop designers, stage builders, cameramen and women – this is not to mention the highly projected domestic national growth and contribution to the national treasury and gross domestic product.
That is what we are all waiting for – Parliament’s action.
We have other performing arts events planned for before the end of the year. The Mwansabombwe festival planned for Mansa College of Education, the ABET Arts festival set for Chingola Arts Society and the NATAAZ festival sometime in September.
Not long ago, the NATAAZ team organised a one-off festival in Livingstone with Nkwazi and NAPSA theatre in attendance. Strangely, many theatre groups could not travel. I am still wondering at the essence of the festival though my excitement is always the gathering of artists who often share their skills through the exhibition of performances. But with only two groups in the festival, that was not good enough!
I am yet to delve through my notes to locate the information about what Kasama Arts Theatre is doing, though I saw the young men and women dancing in Lusaka during the last Labour Day celebrations on May 1.
I am sure; being the premiere column today, more stories will be unbelted.
Once again, my fellow practising artists, join me in thanking the Zambia Daily Mail for this column. I will try to exhume the history and other related matters of the local arts industry. I want to be sharing information and possibly hear from the readers what is going on in their areas. Until next week, cheerio!
Email: or phone: 0955-0977-710975.

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