Community Theatre Takes Giant Leap

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By Richard Swartz WINDHOEK Theatre history was made this week when Committed Artists of Namibia, the country’s longest surviving community theatre group, received some expensive theatre equipment valued at N$66ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 from the American Cultural Centre. This welcome gesture from the Americans is generally seen by CAN as the first step towards setting up its own contemporary theatre in the capital. “We would like to express our gratitude to the far-sightedness of the American Cultural Centre for having trust in CAN by this investment to continue keeping the flame of Namibian, African and international theatre burning,” said Felicity Celento, the group’s organising secretary. The sound and light equipment is a first for any community theatre group in the country. “This equipment will definitely ensure that CAN’s present annual festival productions improve in presentation quality to the benefit of its long-time theatre followers for the past 29 years. Gone are the days that we had to beg and borrow theatre equipment from all and sundry to produce performances of high quality,” Celento said. The majority of community groups in the country have over the years struggled with technical equipment and the availability with affordable venues. “Many of our plays over the years were performed as part of the ‘poor theatre’ concept due to lack of funding to purchase equipment of this nature provided unconditionally to CAN by the Americans. We have been forced to perform in ill-equipped school and community halls. Most of the door takings of productions had to be used to pay for expensive venue rentals and equipment hire. Despite these impediments CAN has forged ahead against many odds,” she said. As a theatre pacesetter CAN will, according to its organising secretary, avail the much-needed equipment to other needy community theatre groups in the country. “In this way we hope other groups will also improve the quality of their works in the interest of developing a national theatre culture, not only in the capital, but countrywide. In our view there exists a definite need for an independent and proper functioning theatre venue, part of our quest to diversify the local entertainment set-up and to produce more world class theatre plays,” she concluded.