Rooftop Promotions, a long-time partner of Hivos Southern Africa, opened a new theatre in the heart of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.
The 500 seater state-of-the art theatre is both a physical and virtual space that will serve as a hub for creatives and artists in Zimbabwe. The venue will be accessible to Harare-based theatre groups for rehearsals and performances.
“At Theatre in the Park, we are reclaiming our spaces. We are taking back our role as actors on Zimbabwe’s stage. We are re-appropriating the conversation and demanding that the politicians stop shutting us out,” said Daves Guzha, founder and CEO of Rooftop Promotions.
The theatre will be equipped with Wi-Fi and computers so creatives can access digital theatre, music and poetry collections. There will be a café and a workspace.
According to Guzha, “Theatre in the Park is a ‘dare’ – a space where the community comes together to discuss important issues and resolve community problems. Theatre should not be passively consumed. Every person in the space is part of the conversation. Every person in this space is part of our community.”
Guzha added that Harare needs open, creative spaces that will foster citizen engagement on key issues.
“We need to engage with each other. And then we need to use the strength and energy from this community to engage our leaders,” he said.
Tambudzai Madzimure, Hivos Southern Africa’s Project Manager, said that Theatre in the Park has provided an opportunity to many young Zimbabwe arts enthusiasts, some of whom have gone on to enjoy lucrative careers as actors or actresses and arts managers.
“Theatre in the Park has seen exchanges and networking that has resulted in some productions touring the international circuit. The arts exchange programmes have brought young talent to wider audiences around the country, but also in the region”.
Several Zimbabwean artistes, including Hope Masike, Tariro neGitare, Doc Vikela, Chirikure Chirikure and Cde Fatso, performed at the opening event attended by Norway and the United States’ ambassadors to Zimbabwe, Bard Hopland and Harry K. Thomas, respectively.
Guest of honour at the official opening, Norwegian Ambassador Bard Hopland said the Norwegian embassy was happy to have facilitated the construction of the arts space. The Norwegian Embassy partnered with Hivos Southern Africa to support Theatre in the Park under the Culture Frame, which aimed to support arts organizations in Zimbabwe.
“The Norwegian Embassy is proud to count Theatre in The Park amongst its longstanding partners in support of the rich cultural life in Harare and in Zimbabwe. We are happy to have supported the construction of such an arts space that creates room for freedom of expression through various cultural activities,” said ambassador Hopland.
Hivos supports festivals and cultural spaces in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Netherlands to strengthen the cultural landscape, facilitate exchanges between artists and reach wider audiences. Festivals and cultural spaces provide an ideal platform for cultural expression, public debate and cultural exchange both nationally and internationally, while offering artists the opportunity to increase their income and distribute their creative products.