The decision to turn the National Arts Youth Festival (Nasfest) into an international event is an opportunity for budding artists to learn new skills from their counterparts within the region, organisers have said.
Nasfest executive director James Kitchen said within the arrangement of the relationship they have made with sister festivals from the southern African region is a component of exchange visits which open windows to appreciate how colleagues in the region are doing their arts.
“This platform will allow exchange visits between our student actors and those from other countries. Our friends are a little more exposed and advanced in terms of their productions. Our students will be exposed to things such as stage lighting techniques which are valuable,” he said.
Kitchen said over the 10 the annual youth arts festival has been running they have noted gaps in script development, creativity and fusion of theatre in the productions that have been paraded during the events; hence their decision to expand the event.
So far, the festival has revealed partnerships with similar youth festivals from Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, but they have since indicated that they are exploring the possibility of engaging more players in other countries.
He said: “We are also taking this as an opportunity to enforce the spirit of cultural and talent exchange among the countries. In that regard, we would like to expand our space as wide as we can.”
One of the country’s respected names in theatre Joyce Mhango-Chavula hailed the move, saying by upgrading the status of the festival, many opportunities such as networking, skills transfer and exchange programmes will be made possible.
“You can easily see from their productions that they are struggling in some areas such as how to fuse music and dance into theatre and lack of research which creates a lot of gaps in their delivery of information,” she said.
Mhango-Chavula said she hopes this initiative will make some partners start believing in investing in the arts.
She said: “This will motivate the students to push more. Just having a school being awarded to go and perform outside Malawi is beyond exciting for the students.”
Dzuwa Arts Theatre actress Hazel Mbonekera said: “The association with other artists will help us discover some potential that is in us. We will also benefit from the working relationships that we will make with our colleagues.”
Organisers of Nasfest announced their plans to make the festival an international event at the end of the three-day festival held over the weekend at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.n