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ASSITEJ Zambia focused on making sure that children and young people access not ordinary theatre but quality and suitable one, held a two-day national workshop on theatre for young audiences. Starting May 7, the workshop drew participants from across the country to impart the TYA production and management skills. The workshop was held with the financial support from the ASSITEJ International solidarity fund which was raised by ASSITEJ Italy in 2019.

The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Cheela Chilala, head of English literature and drama department at the University of Zambia, Taonga Tembo the director of the globe -rotting Barefeet Theatre and Mulela Kumwenda from Siso Siso Puppetry. The facilitators and the thirty-two participants shared information and idea pertaining to the best practices in TYA. The workshop was highly practical!

One of the participants, Mwelwa Mukanta after the workshop said “I came all the way from Livingstone with almost nothing in my bag but now I am going back with a toolkit of theatre for children production methods and practices. We need this kind of workshops in as many schools, orphanages, churches and communities to impart the necessary skills. It was a workshop worth attending.”

National Arts Council of Zambia

The workshop and the convention were officially opened by the National Arts Council of Zambia (NAC) chairperson Agnes Nyendwa who stressed the importance of theatre and the arts in general, particularly those of children and young people. She said that theatre and the arts in general explored internal forces beyond obvious physical comprehension and that they were tools for social change especially among the young people and that every child must have a chance to participate in the arts in one way or another.

The Vice Chancellor of Zambia Open University Professor Dickson Mwansa, Zambia Popular Theatre Alliance (ZAPOTA) chairman Philip Kaluba and National Schools Arts Association (NASAAZ) chairman James Chikonde were among the dignitaries that graced the event. Other notables were former National Cultural Affairs Department director Wesley Kaonga and first President of ASSITEJ Zambia George Mumbuna.

A new Executive Committee 2021-2024

The workshop ran along side the national convention that saw the election of the new 2021 – 2024 National Executive Committee to be led by Bernard Mutambwa as president. Others in the newly elected committee are Harrison Muleya, George Mandalazi, Erica Gondwe, Mclaudy Munanzwa, Mulela Kumwenda, Jones Chilikazi, Hamalala Hamalala, Nalishebo Mayouvu and Borniface Mwanza.

The re-elected President Bernard Mutambwa thanked the ASSITEJ EC and ASSITEJ Italy for making it possible for the workshop to be undertaken and emphasized that the next three years were crucial in the association’s expansion programme. He stressed the need to devise new methods of reaching out to the audiences in the midst of the coronavirus situation which had restricted physical contact. He stressed the need to create new and strong partnerships with local and international like minded to increase children’s access to theatre technologically and physically. During the convention opening ceremony, ASSITEJ Zambia also officially launched the “Take a Child To The Theatre” national campaign.

Photo : Courtesy of Maclaudy Munanzwa

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