By Frederick Philander
Two European experts involved in Namibian youth theatre development have stepped down from their influential positions in Scandinavia.
They are Swedish theatre expert, Niclas Malmcrona, about to lay down his nine-year old term as Secretary General of Assitej-International (Organisation of Theatre for Children and Young People) to which Assitej-Namibia is a member with 78 countries worldwide.
The president of Assitej-Finland, with whom the local branch of youth theatre development had close working relations and ties in the setting up of a national structure, Satu Paavola, stepped down from her position last week.
Malmcrona, who had been instrumental in raising big amounts of SIDA-funding to promote youth theatre in African countries, will relinquish his post after nine years at the helm at the world conference in Adelaide, Australia on May 9, it was announced in a formal press statement.
“I have had a fantastic time with Assitej-International over the past nine years and am very proud of what we have achieved altogether over this period of time. It is with some sadness that I leave after many years of hard work for international theatre for children and youth and, of course, with some excitement that I move on, keeping all festivals, seminars, meetings and personal encounters close to my heart, with many, many wonderful experiences and memories from all parts of the world,” Malmcrona said.
Assitej-International was established in 1965 in France.
Under Malmcrona’s leadership a week-long one-man play AIDS workshop for African playwrights was staged in Namibia in 2004.
“We salute the secretary general for his hard work and consistent help to Assitej-Namibia over the years to establish youth theatre in Africa and around the world. We wish him well in his future career and theatre endeavors whatever that may be,” said the chairman of Assitej-Namibia, David Ndjavera.
Paavola has started her own educational youth theatre puppet company in Helsinki and will be travelling to Zambia later this year to perform her knock out one-woman AIDS play, Diagnosis, with which she extensively travelled in Namibia three years ago.
She was instrumental in the formation and establishment of Assitej-Namibia’s national structure, which after three years of hard work is coming to fruition through a youth theatre exchange programme between Namibia and Finland.