Young thespians and playwrights nurtured by Nhimbe Trust
[Main Picture: Nobert Makoche wins at Bulawayo Arts Awards. Photo credit: Mgcini Nyoni]
Nhimbe Trust’s Children in Theatre & Television (CiTT) programme has been nurturing young thespians, writers and directors since 2007, and while it now has a primary focus on filmmaking, graduates from the theatre training continue to excel in theatre.
Among these are the young and strongly-emerging Nobert Makoche and Elton Sibanda, whose work recently won several awards at the first edition of the Doug Hill High Schools Drama Festival on 1-2 August 2017, hosted by Masvingo's Charles Austin Theatre in honour of veteran theatre practitioner.
Nhimbe Trust supported the festival by bringing in two Bulawayo schools - Eveline High School and Gifford High School. Awards scooped by Gifford High for the play ‘Behind Closed Doors’ written by Nobert Makoche were Best Actor, Best Support Actor, Best Cameo, Best Costume and Best Production. Eveline High won Best Actress, Best Director and First Runner-up. Altogether 13 high schools from across the country participated.
Nhimbe’s 2-year programme ‘Schools Playwrights and Actors Academy’ programme (SPAA) started in 2007, and evolved into the ‘Children in Theatre and Television’ programme known as CiTT today.
Long-time participant and emerging playwright Nobert Makoche (19) said in an interview, “My learning experience with CiTT has been fun, it helped me develop my acting skills and I got to interact with other artists. It was also at CiTT where I discovered my writing and directing abilities. In Masvingo I was over-excited about our wins because it was the first play I wrote for Gifford and it scooped many awards. I also enjoyed watching other plays by different schools with interesting storylines and concepts.” Not surprisingly, Nobert won the Award for ‘Outstanding Actor in Schools’ at the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards in July 2017.
Bridget Sayers, drama teacher at Gifford High School, attributes their success to passion and hard work. She said, “Nobert was good at writing plays but lacked confidence in himself. He has now proved himself worthy by writing and directing the play we did at Masvingo. It certainly boosted his confidence.
“Elton was in the drama club and directing other kids while in school. He developed his skill there when we did inter-house competitions and his house won each year. Elton worked hard in building the characters we have today, making life easy for any director to build a story with the boys we have today. Our strongest point is characterization, and Nobert wrote a story that needed strong characters. That was the secret to winning most of those prizes in Masvingo.”
“What keeps us going is the passion and determination that the boys have. And obviously the push from the teacher in the administrative issues!” Ms Sayers concluded.
Elton Sibanda is now in his third year at Lupane State University in the provincial capital, and currently on attachment at Cowdray Park Secondary School, teaching arts subjects including drama.
Directing the drama club since 2011 until earlier this year, he is now also the director of Gifford High’s External Drama Club comprised of former Giffordian drama club members.
He said, “I joined CiTT/SPAA programme in 2012 and finished in 2013. It was a very beneficial 2-year course, where I got training on scriptwriting and acting. I also got an opportunity to attend a SADC Arts Conference in Johannesburg, a trip that has opened networking platforms for me.”
In 2016 Nhimbe received the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) 2016 National Arts Service Award, when the Award Citation by the National Arts Council acknowledged Nhimbe’s work cutting across children in theatre and television, women in theatre and television, and advocacy for an enabling arts and culture environment.
The 2017 pioneering television production and acting programme Children in Theatre & Television kicked off with 43 enthusiastic young people from local high schools. The students range between 12 and 17 years of age with a bias towards young women. They are being trained in production, acting, camera, directing and editing. The equipment was supported by Nhimbe Trust’s partnership with Africalia, Belgium, with additional equipment donated by South Tyneside College UK and Youth Contact Centre in Bulawayo. Multimedia Box of Bulawayo are Nhimbe Trust’s partners for CiTT.
[Pic 1- below ] (L to R): Maxwell Kapoka, best Supporting Actor; Nobert Makoche, writer/director; Bridget Sayers, patron/producer; Silas Matsika, Best Actor; Larry Thebe, Best Cameo Role.