On the 21st of March 2016 at Glenview New Hall in Harare, Almasi presented readings of stories and short scenes produced during a five-day playwriting workshop led by Gideon Jeph Wabvuta. From 2pm, parents, siblings, peers and friends thronged into the high-density suburb hall to hear the participants’ pieces as they were read by University of Zimbabwe theatre students. During the presentation, the facilitator commended Patricia Chidida for staying on for the workshop in spite of being the only girl in the group; a challenge that some girls in her neighborhood might not have been able to face. The Playwriting workshop, held in Glenview, had the participation of out of school students and those still going to high school. The 9 participants were introduced to the basics of playwriting through a series of writing exercises, prompts and inspirations from the facilitator. They discussed the challenges they face and were encouraged to use what they experience in their writing. The results were stories and short scenes that articulated their aspirations and spoke to the environment in which they live. The workshop was part of the Capacity Building of Dramatic Artists Project supported by Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust in partnership with Sida and Danida.
A NOTE FROM FACILITATOR GIDEON JEPH WABVUTA
THE GLENVIEW WORKSHOP
In 2013, I had the opportunity to be part of the Almasi playwrights intensive workshop with Nikkole Salter. This workshop changed the way I thought about playwrighting, so whenever I would stand up and talk about playwrighting I was coming from an informed point of view. Fast forward 3 years later, I’m asked to hold a 5-day playwriting workshop for a group of school leavers in Glen View. I took up the opportunity. In a rush, I created a comprehensive curriculum based on what I had been taught by Nikkole. As I walked into the room with the youths and commenced a conversation with them, I realized I had to go back to the basic story creation. The majority of these youths had last written anything in high school; those guided and stiff essays that are lined with a bunch of do and don’t language restrictions as well as many other factors not allowing them to explore their creativity. So I dropped all that I had been taught by Nikkole and resorted to what I had understood over the years about writing in general. We launched into a discussion about sources of stories, the basic structure of a story — beginning, middle and end — the structure of our local folktales, etc. I challenged them to think beyond the restrictions that had been drilled into them, and within no time they started exploring and fascinating stories started coming up. I pushed them further to dig deep within themselves to write about the things they cared about. One exercise that brought a chill into the room was when I called out words and they wrote the first word that popped into their minds. I tasked them to write on those words in relation to how they felt about them… CONTINUE READING