Theatre practitioners have commended assistance being offered to them at the ongoing Almasi Africa Playwright Conference under the stewardship of visiting United States playwright Alice Tuan. Also being facilitated by Walter Mparutsa fellow Gideon Jeph Wabvuta who is currently studying in US, the conference kicked off on January 3 and will run until this weekend with a series of stage readings.
The conference attracted three playwrights, two locals (Thandiwe Mwaungwa, Virginia Jekanyika) and Sfundo Sosibo from South Africa. Other participants at the conference include 19 actors, three directors and six stage managers.
All participants will be part of the fine tuning of three plays that will show on Friday and Saturday.
Coordinating the event for Almasi Collaborative Arts, Elizabeth Muchemwa said the conference is designed to identify, nurture and develop Zimbabwean writing talent in order to compete on the global stage while also opening up to new voices from other countries.
"The focus being to reignite the Zimbabwean voice in the dramatic arts and bring about a new era of great Zimbabwean dramatic storytellers," she said.
To participate at the conference, playwrights had to enter their scripts which are then selected based on the readiness to be further developed.
They are then read by various player in the theatre fraternity, who will help fine tune them to meet international standards.
Beneficiary of the first conference held in 2015, who this year is back with another play "Thirty Three Sinners", Mwaungwa said the process has been very helpful.
"The biggest benefit is that I've been able to ground my play to the main theme, getting rid of things that were unnecessary so that I would better portray my subject matter," she said.
Sandra Chidawanyika Goliath who is directing "Thirty Three Sinners" said the conference has huge benefits not just to playwrights but other players as well.
"The process has been very exciting. When I first read 'Thirty Three Sinners' for the first time it was a great play. It's interesting how Mwaungwa further developed her play taking in suggestions from various people at the conference.
"All I can say is I'm honoured to be part of such a project that benefits all players involved. It gave me a chance to work with different cast members and writer," she said.