To help teachers prepare students for the annual Speech and Drama Festival in July, the National Institute of Allied Arts (NIAA) last month engaged Los Angeles director James Carey to conduct a series of workshops in Harare, Gweru, Chegutu, Bulawayo and Mutare.
Carey, who was an adjudicator at the festival in 2012, worked with local theatre practitioners Tafadzwa Bob Mutumbi and Musa Saruro. The two are both graduates of the Theory X media company which trains young people in theatre. NIAA secretary Kathy Norman explains, “We are trying to help the teachers understand what we are looking for so that they can prepare their students better for the festival.”
Over 200 teachers participated countrywide. In Harare, St Georges, Dominican Convent, Prince Edward and Bishopslea Preparatory School played host for schools such as Barwick, Gateway, Westridge, Acorn Foundation, Churchill, Hellenics Academy, Chisipite, Eaglesvale, Arundel and Harare International School. Each workshop had the same basic content, suitably adjusted for the teachers who attended.
Norman said, “Teachers participated in interactive games that help with focus and concentration and were given helpful hints on reciting poetry, preparing a play, miming and how to get the best out of a group presenting a poem in the category choral speaking.” She said it was not possible to cover all 106 classes offered in the syllabus during the three-hour workshops.
Carey who staged his play Coming to Zimbabwe at Reps Theatre while he was in town said, “There is an underutilised pool of talent in Zimbabwe. There are many great performers with the potential to be even better and they need more support.” He added that local teachers did not know much about grooming students in the arts so the workshop programme went a long way towards addressing that. “It’s really been fun working in this country, I loved every bit of it and the people I was working with were so easy to get along with,” said Carey.
NIAA is a non-profit organization that has been hosting different arts and culture programmes for school children for the past century. On their calendar are different festivals including a Vocal and Instrument Festival, Speech and Drama, Visual Arts, and Literary Festivals.
This year’s Speech and Drama Festival will be held from 23 to 25 June at Midlands Christian College in Bulawayo and from 1 to 11 July at various schools in Harare.