The Sunday News
ABOUT four months ago a friend and colleague of mine Jasen Mphepo told me he was planning to build a theatre. I remember looking at him and almost laughing. Building a theatre in this economy? I thought he was just dreaming.
We all have our dreams, you know and Jasen Mphepo, most of you will remember him from the comedy Waiters that showed on ZTV many years ago, is a big dreamer. So a few weeks after our conversation he sent me pictures of workers starting to dig the theatre foundation and that is when I realised how serious he was.
He told me he was going to build it in less than six months and true to his word he did. This past week we were officially opening the 200-seater Jasen Mphepo Little Theatre. The name might be very deceiving as most of the guests to the opening quickly found out.
Jasen Mphepo joined a very elite group of theatre practitioners who own their venues.
In Bulawayo there is Cont Mhlanga and the Amakhosi Cultural Centre.
In Harare there is Daves Guzha and his Theatre in the Park. Enter Jasen Mphepo and his little theatre. For many years artistes have been crying about lack or absence of venues that understand them and what they want to do. There little venues for theatre in the whole country.
City Council venues have become inaccessible to many artistes due to the costs of hiring. The state of many of the venues makes performances in them dangerous and uninspiring. No proper lighting system. Broken down stage. No security for audiences. This is what the Jasen Mphepo Little Theatre is coming to solve. It is a cosy theatre space designed to make theatre performances a pleasure to both the actors and audience alike.
The sector should applaud Jasen Mphepo for adding a much-needed infrastructure into the sector. Besides him immortalising himself with the structure and name he has made sure he will leave behind a rich legacy for his children and the next generation.
He has set a huge example for his peers and many in the arts sector. Imagine all the big names in the sector owning their own spaces. That would mean total ownership of the means of production and artistes deciding the direction of the sector. Right now many artistes cannot practise their art simply because they can’t afford to rent or hire venues to either rehearse or perform. So once again we say congratulations are in order Mr Jasen Mphepo and the whole Patsime crew.
On other news the RoilBAA 2019 nominees were announced last week. As in previous editions the nomination reveal brought a serious buzz to the city. Those nominated went to town screaming about their nominations in all the platforms they are in and could access. Those that failed to make the grade have, as usual, one or two things to say. The shock reaction, however, was the one concerning the category that saw Jah Prayzah, Winky D and Oskido on it. Funny enough the reaction was not on Oskido but the other two, simply because they are Harare artistes. Those in the arts and that love art will not deny the impact both Winky D and Jah Prayzah have had on Bulawayo market. They have come and filled stadiums. They have come and inspired many artistes in the city. Jah Prayzah has even worked with the likes of Sandra Ndebele, Fatima Katiji, Vusa Blaqs, Paula Polama and many others. The category is a very interesting one as it looks at value and seeks to get RoilBAA accepted even outside Bulawayo. Let’s not forget that the BAAs have to think about their sustainability beyond tomorrow.
We conclude by wishing all nominees the best and hoping to see all of them at the nominees’ dinner in June.