2004 - Present
THE ZIMBABWE PROJECT
THE STORY SO FAR
Having initially begun as a small grassroots mentoring programme in 2004, Developing Artists' project in Zimbabwe has grown into the charity's main initiative over past 14 years.
In 2006 the charity the presented a new play entitled Territory at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe 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 on their own real life stories. Following it's premiere at HIFA, the charity toured Territory to the United Kingdom, where it played at The Edinburgh Festival and at Artsdepot in London.
The following year the charity sent Broadway actor Kevin Loreque and The Northern Stage Theatre Company from Vermont, USA, to Zimbabwe to conduct a series of professional drama workshops with local communities. This culminated in a new play entitled Crocodile which was also performed at HIFA. In July 2007 one of the actors from Crocodile, Blessing Hungwe, travelled to America on the charity's Apprenticeship programme to join two Mexican actors from another Developing Artists project and perform in a professional American production of 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 as an apprentice to appear in the first professional out-of-New York production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys. In 2009 the charity staged a full production of Oedipus Tyrannus at HIFA involving some 40 local artists and creatives. The charity also facilitated a production assistant to travel from the UK to work for HIFA in the run-up to and for the duration of the festival. In 2010 the success of the Oedipus Project was repeated with a locally cast and rehearsed production of Eduardo Erba's play Marathon, which was staged in both Harare and Bulawayo.
In 2011 a new play by Developing Artists Apprentice Blessing Hungwe, Burn Mukwerekwere Burn, 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 was extended for a further run at the Alliance Francaise in Harare, and at Reps Theatre, before touring around Zimbabwe.
In 2012 the charity devised another new play with apprentice Blessing Hungwe, When Angels Weep, a scorching tale of lost youth, greed and familial betrayal. 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 before touring round the country visiting local community centres, theatres and schools.
Continuing the collaboration with local writer Blessing Hungwe, in 2013 a production of his latest play, Looking Into The Abyss, was staged at The Harare Festival and then toured Zimbabwe under the auspices of The British Council. In 2014 the charity staged a production of Jean Genet's harrowing play The Maids at HIFA starring UK based Zimbabwe actress Chipo Chung and two local Zimbabwean actors - John Pfumojena and Tichaona Mutore.
In 2015 The National Theatre of Mannheim, Germany invited 6 Zimbabwean actors to re-stage Blessing Hungwe's play Burn Mukwerekwere Burn at their Schiller Festival. Blessing Hungwe also travelled to London to take part in The Royal Court Theatre's International Young Playwright scheme.
Developing Artists presented a number of initiatives at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in 2018, encompassing theatre, dance and education.
As part of the main festival programme, we presented Ahmed Tobasi's performance of AND HERE I AM, a coming-of-age story that witnesses the comedic absurdities of growing up in one of the world’s most troubled conflict zones, a tale of everyday human experiences against a backdrop of inhumane circumstances.
In collaboration with FLYING FEET (www.flyingfeet.co.uk), Developing Artists also ran a series of dance workshops specifically focused on disadvantaged children living in the Harare area. Flying Feet is a dance, film and cultural exchange project that connects and inspires children all over the world.
Dance is a fundamental means of human expression common to all cultures. These movement based workshops provided the children with an outlet for their energy and their imagination as they learnt the skill of story-telling through the power of dance. The workshops have been documented on film and subsequently relayed to similar projects in other countries thereby inspiring the children’s creative energies through being involved in a global project and seeing their international peers dance in the films thereby gaining an insight into other lives and cultures. The workshops were run by Hattie Worboys, Founder of Flying Feet.
Alongside the Theatre and Dance Projects the charity ran a number of free to attend workshops
covering topics including 'Theatre as a Force for Change', 'Story Telling', 'Dance Skills for Adults' and 'Teaching Drama in Schools'. The workshops were conducted by Giles Ramsay, Ahmed Tobasi, Zoe Lafferty and Hattie Worboys
“This is a significant and exciting time for Zimbabweans, coming together at HIFA 2018, to celebrate the capacity of people and creative thinkers to make a difference in our country and in the world. It is more important than ever that the artistic community forges creative connection with the rest of the world, and Developing Artists is a crucial partner in fostering these connections.”
Manuel Bagorro, Director of the Harare International Festival of the Arts