"It is vital at this time that Zimbabwe retains a creative connection with the rest of the world. The work of Developing Artists is essential in maintaining this connection."
Manuel Bagorro, Director of The Harare International Festival of the Arts
Having begun as a small grassroots mentoring programme in 2004 the Zimbabwean project grew to such an extent that 2006 saw the presentation in The National Gallery of Zimbabwe of a new play Territory as part of The Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Two local actors, Victor Mavedzenge and Michael Kudakwashe, were selected and work began on creating a play based upon stories from their own lives. Following HIFA Territory toured to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and The Flowers East Gallery and Artsdepot in London.
In May 2007 the Broadway actor Kevin Loreque and The Northern Stage Theatre Company from Vermont, USA went out to teach and perform at HIFA. The show I Am My Own Wife subsequently toured to The Assembly Rooms as part of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A new play Crocodile was also performed at HIFA using an entirely local cast. In July one of the actors from Crocodile, Blessing Hungwe, travelled to America to join with two Mexican actors from another Developing Artists project and a professional American cast to perform Ovid's Tales of Metamorphoses at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Whilst in America Blessing also took part in a staged reading of Crocodile at Northern Stage starring actress Lisa Harrow.
In 2008 Michael Kudakwashe travelled to America to appear in the first professional out-of-New York production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys. Then in 2009 a full production of Oedipus Tyrannus was staged at HIFA involving some 40 local artists and creatives. The charity also sent a production assistant from the UK to work for HIFA in the run-up to and for the duration of the festival. In 2010 this success was repeated with a locally cast and rehearsed production of Eduardo Erba's play Marathon, which was staged in Harare and Bulawayo.
"Developing Artists gave me the experience and the opportunity that has been fundamental to my career and life. But, not only that, I managed to cement friendships based on mutual respect of our differing talents and personalities with people from all walks of life."
"The most important thing I learnt from Developing Artists is that no dream is too big."
In 2011 a new play by Developing Artists Apprentice Blessing Hungwe, Burn Mukwerekwere Burn, was premiered at HIFA. It was directed by Giles Ramsay who also ran a series of educational and practical workshops whilst in Harare. The five man show received rave reviews and standing ovations every night and was extended for a further run at the Alliance Francaise in Harare, and at Reps Theatre, before touring around Zimbabwe.
Please click on the links below for online articles on Burn Mukwerekwere Burn:
Extract from Burn Mukwerekwere Burn
WHEN ANGELS WEEP
In 2012 Developing Artists devised another new play with Developing Artists apprentice Blessing Hungwe, When Angels Weep.
When Angels Weep is a scorching tale of lost youth, greed and familial betrayal. When 13-year-old Sarita is sold in to sexual bondage by her favorite uncle, her childhood comes to a screeching stop. Fate brings her back to her village 17 years later, forcing her to face a past she buried to survive...
The play featured award winning Zimbabwean actor Michael Kudakwashe, actress Priviledge Mutendera and the musical talents of Patrick Tembo, Brezhnev Guvheya and Rumbidzai Karize. It premiered at HIFA 2012 and was directed by Giles Ramsay, director of Developing Artists. The production then toured round the country visiting local community centres, theatres and schools. See below for press articles on the production.
2013 AND BEYOND
Developing Artists have launched a new project for 2013 and 2014 which is generously supported by the British Council. The project was officially launched in London in April 2013 at the St James Theatre, with the first production to be staged in Harare in May. For further information please see The Zimbabwe Project page.