By Professor Andries Oliphant PRETORIA The 2006 Youth Theatre Festival of Namibia was a resounding success. Over three days, from early morning and late into the evening, the public was treated to ten theatre productions. Five respectively in each of the schools and community theatre categories. The works were varied and distinguished by the range of themes and the quality. What was staged was a joyous feast of creativity. The festival once again underscored the fact that Namibia is a leader in Africa in the field of youth theatre. For these sterling and inspirational performances, Committed Artists of Namibia as the organizers and all the participants must be congratulated. As theatre incubator, if not a laboratory of creative experimentation, the festival was a learning experience and an occasion of accomplishment for everyone. For many of the participants, in particularly the school thespians, it was their first time to perform before an appreciative and critical public. It could be said without reservation that everyone splendidly rose to the occasion. The performers bathed in the applause and graciously accepted the criticism that is the life of theatre and art. Where disappointment was expressed, as it inevitably should happen, it was issued from the eminently understandable intensity of competitiveness and the burning desire to succeed. Given all this, one can safely say that the future on Namibian theatre, whatever its current challenges and constraints, is assured. It was a singular pleasure to see how the youth, in their diverse magnificence, coming from all the corners of Namibia, showed under the lights. They took delight and exhilarated in the sheer fact of being on stage in the country’s capital. Their efforts at conjuring the special magic of theatre were rewarded by responsive audiences. The audiences listened. They watched. They held their breaths. They laughed. They clapped. All this warmed the brisk winter mornings and the chilly nights with a special kind of beauty: the art of drama. To grasp this, one had to be in the auditorium of the Multi-Purpose Youth Center in Katutura. I am grateful to have had this bracing and vivifying experience. Just as memorable was the way in which the community theatre exponents seized the opportunity presented by the stage to explore aspects of contemporary life. In realistic grittiness and allegorical grandeur facets of Namibia and the world were set upon the stage for all to behold. The festival is a cultural event in which Namibian dramatists, directors and actors engage directly with the public on matters which effect everyone In this regard it was heartening to experience the bold and uninhibited manner in which Namibian theatre practitioners tackled social actualities ranging from private matters to public affairs. The main sponsors of the annual theatre festival were First National Bank, the Finnish Embassy and the Franco-Namibia Cultural Center.
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