The Rooftop Promotions organised Stephen J Chifunyise International Theatre Festival has ended with great successes, the organisers have said. The festival was initially slated to take place on the 26th-28th March 2020 at Theatre in the Park, Harare Gardens and become an annual sustainable performing-arts-meet-literature festival, but it could not take place given the current state of the world with COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of cancelling the event as so many other festivals have been doing, the organisers, who included the University of Zimbabwe, Savanna Trust, CHIPAWO, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), the Chifunyise Family and Peter Churu et al., moved the event online. The festival then ran from 4th to the 10th of April and was live-streamed free on YouTube and Facebook.
Despite its hectic programming coupled with many adjustments because of the global pandemic, the curators in various countries only needed to embrace the situation and work tirelessly to create the festival atmosphere. Countries which took part in this festival include Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.
Since the pandemic prompted restrictions on travels, all the artists and curators from these respective countries could not facilitate their travels to Zimbabwe but had to urgently make arrangements to meet the dates.
Festival director Daves Guzha reiterated the organising committee’s dutiful firm support of the digital way of implementation. Guzha also added that the creative industry needs to do more especially during this period of lockdowns where the public consumes more due to its stagnancy.
“The entertainment industry is challenged to do more during these trying times of this global COVID-19 pandemic because people still need entertainment as they endure the lockdowns. This should not end here, but the digital space should be utilised to entertain the public,” said Guzha.
Artists in Zambia did a fantastic job to remember the late Chifunyise by performing “Love at the Crossroads”.
A beauty of digitalisation, the festival is still available freely or as an open-source on Rooftop Promotions’ YouTube channel.