23rd Youth Theatre Festival

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Six self-written Namibian plays will take to the stage as from next Wednesday to Friday in the 23rd annual Youth Theatre Festival at the Multi-Purpose Center in Katutura. In a press statement the organizers, Committed Artists of Namibia, announced that a record 24 new plays have been received for this year’s festival of which only six stage works have been selected. “These six stage works have been selected for their literary value and stageability through a painstaking process over the past few months by an experienced and published playwright,” said CAN’s organizing secretary, Felicity Celento. According to her, most worthy Namibian playwrights and actors have made their debut and writing mark through this particular festival over the last 23 years. “We pride ourselves by the fact that the festival has been presented consistently over the years through which a number of Namibian playwrights became recognized and published stage writers, a process that will continue in the future for many years to come, incentives permitting,” she said. This year First National Bank of Namibia, the Franco-Namibia Cultural Center and the Finnish Embassy in Windhoek are the main sponsors of the festival, which starts next Wednesday and ends on Friday. The two South African judges of the festival are professor Andrie Oliphant from the University of South Africa in Pretoria and Cape Town actor and playwright, Peter-John Davids. Some of the multiple character plays, to be judged during live performances by the two South African literature and theatre experts, are Rest in Peace, An Actor’s Story, 09BC: Joseph’s Dilemma, The Bigamist and The Case of Henry X. An added section to the exciting festival is a category of youth theatre groups from rural areas, established last year by Assitej-Namibia Organization of Theatre for Children and Young People. “We are very grateful to the Finnish Embassy for financially supporting the children section of the festival, offering rural groups the opportunity to exhibit and show their stage prowess to a more critical audience in the capital. This is a historic coming together of these groups and we intend doing so next year, too,” said the chairperson of Assitje-Namibia, David Ndjavera when approached for comment. As a long term partner for educational theatre for the past three years the Finnish Embassy has already invested almost N$700 000 in the annual theatre projects of Assitej-Namibia. “What makes the educational section of the festival more significant is the fact that Assitej-Namibia will on Saturday democratically elect its first full national representative management structure to take the organization further. The proposed structure caters for a board of trustees, representing town-based centers throughout the country, a national organizer, a treasurer in a secretariat to be headed by an executive secretary,” said Ndjavera. He also announced that a guest theatre group from Cape Town would also grace the festival. “This is the first time that we are hosting and engaging a foreign theatre group as guest artists, aimed at future such programmes with theatre groups in neighbouring countries. It is very important for us to continue expanding our activities into the region as a tone-setter for quality theatre for which we are widely respected,” said Ndjavera. The rural groups will be staged on Thursday and Friday morning at the Multiple Youth Center in Katutura. Plays in the morning programme are Hear My Cry, The Bitterness of Betrayal, The Happy Days of Mister Kommedie, The Man With One Too Many Wives, The Final Whistle and Frank’s Wife. Tickets for the evening community section cost N$10 and can be bought from participating groups, whilst the morning shows are free. The Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture is sponsoring the transport for the school groups from the northern towns of Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otjwarongo.