Theatre Voice: Love Comes First, the Rest will Follow

Harare – What inspires you to pursue your dream? Often, misdirected attention shepherds many promising talents astray.

For celebrated playwriter, theatre producer and director Stanley Makuwe, love conquers all.

Derick Matsengarwodzi
“To make it it’s all about pushing forward, loving what you do. You must put theatre first, and not money or anything else. Your love for theatre comes first, the rest follows.”

Behind every successful person is a stimulus. Dambudzo Marechera and Denford Magora spurred his early creative will.
Rebecca Chisamba and Stanley Makuwe 

“I was inspired by Dambudzo Marechera, just like most of the young people at that time. I got into writing plays in the early 90s after being inspired by one playwriter I regard as the best protest theatre writer, Denford Magora.”

Novelist, Marechera is still feted decades after his passing.

Though he took writing seriously from 2005, his versatile exploits have earned him honours. His play, Chibwido: Girl of War underlining the role of women during the warfare attained three awards in Zimbabwe, his native home. He was also nominated for the BBC International Playwright Award.

Under this Tree and Other stories, Makuwe’s first novel was published in New Zealand, and voted book of the week by Newstalk ZB radio station.

The theatre pacesetter acknowledges the abundance of talent within Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe has plenty of talent. What is lacking is adequate support for that talent.”

With such experience, his counsel for aspiring theatre practitioners is worth noting.

“To aspiring theatre practitioners, my advice is, know exactly what you want to achieve, and put value to it. The Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) 24hr theatre challenge has been part of my role to develop talent as I have tried to involve new and young artists.”

The just-concluded 2017 edition of HIFA was more satisfying for Makuwe.

“In the last challenge we had first time writers who had never had a professional production on stage. They went home happy with a sense of satisfaction with what they did after they saw their work live on stage.”

Theatre could become a big employer and cultural pivot.

“Sponsors and government have a major role to play to keep the industry running,” said Makuwe, adding, “developed countries see the role of theatre to the country's culture and employment and they are making full use of that role not only to their advantage but to the advantage of the whole society.”

Just like any other business, theatre demands an entrepreneurial approach.

“Theatre is a worthy business if approached and run well with proper structures like any other business. One needs to have that business mentality to make it work,” Makuwe warns.

Lack of sponsorship has rendered some artistes paupers, though Makuwe is convinced support must follow quality.

“I believe for any product to succeed it has to be a good product marketable to consumers, so for Zimbabwe to get to those higher levels, we need a good product. That's the first step. Everything will follow. No point to cry for support from sponsors or the media when there is nothing worth supporting.”

Makuwe’s venture into filmmaking is promising.

Thandie Newton and Chipo Chung are some of the names Makuwe wishes to combine with. Currently, he is working with Tawanda Manyimo, a Zimbabwean-born and Hollywood actor.

Filmmaking is about skill, talent and ability – and not money. “It’s either you have them or not.”

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