By Lloyd Nyikadzino
Because of Dell’Arte …I started the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy.
My expedition to Dell’Arte was a life transforming experience. I was introduced to Dell’Arte by Matt Chapman. The first day at Dell’Arte became my transition passage from just being an actor into the majestic world of the actor/creator. To me, Dell’Arte became a consecrated artistic place of deconstruction, self-discovery, embodying the other, inhabiting and DE- VOURING the space.
Because of Dell’Arte, I now appreciate that for the visceral investigation and process of engagement to be fully realized, one has to adopt the notion of discarding or letting go of self for the other to come to life and discover new worlds through the physical body. I am grateful that my time at Dell’Arte, reinvigorated my desire to pursue storytelling through physical theatre and also to be able to share the skills with the students at the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy.
Because of the creative community at Dell’Arte, I learnt that in the investigation process, you should not hold on to something dearly for too long because in the journey, if you honestly let go of yourself and continue with the research, you will meet thought-provoking and dynamic dimensions to explore. When you let go for the other to manifest, the momentum rises and all will be enjoyable.
Appreciating the sense of community revealed at Dell’Arte, I was triggered to create the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy, a creative platform where actors/creators come to observe, imagine, explore and develop, while constantly challenged to play with conviction and ferocity.
Because of Dell’Arte, the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy is nurturing students so they can awaken to the abilities and mysteries of their bodies whilst encouraging and cultivating the creativity that lay within each one of them. The Zimbabwe Theatre Academy is dedicated to the establishment of a progressive environment for actors and faculty members to intensely explore and tell African stories through the use of the body and voice.
Because of Dell’Arte, I was challenged to walk in the lands I had never imagined, through my body. Therefore the main emphasis of our work at the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy is physical self-discovery. It’s not about individualism, it’s an ensemble, a community in which everyone relies on the other, backed up by a solid training.
Because of Dell’Arte, it became clear that it’s not all about surviving the journey or getting it right. Rather, it’s about exploration and enjoyment. As Chipo Chikara (former PTP-14 from Zimbabwe) said, “Creativity should provide a safe space to fail and start again. Failure is not the end, but a part of the creative process. When you fail you can always come back to start off and re-create.” This has also provided a safe space for the students at the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy to discover more.
Because of Dell’Arte, I discovered that most of the knowledge I acquired there impacted my life beyond the stage. I learnt to cuddle my vulnerability, thus opening doors for me to step up, have faith in myself and my ensemble and fully know and cheer each and every victory whether big or small.
Because of Dell’Arte, Matt Chapman (faculty member at Dell’Arte) and I initiated a developmental partnership program with the school, which provides a professional educational opportunity for Zimbabwean theatre practitioners to go and study at Dell’Arte and develop their theatre skills. Since its inception, six Zimbabweans (Tafadzwa Bob Mutumbi, Chipo Chikara, Teddy Mangawa, Nyaradzo Nhongonhema, Everson Ndlovu and the 2018-2019 recipient Kudzai Sevenzo), have been awarded the African scholarship.
Because of Dell’Arte, I am now sharing what I have learnt through offering an accessible, practical as well as theoretical training to the next generation of young actors/creators in Zimbabwe. Not all of them will be able to travel abroad to train in physical theatre, but those enrolled at the academy will benefit immensely through interaction with those who would have been mentored and learnt at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre through the African fellowship.
Because of Dell’Arte, a lot of young Zimbabwean people who have remarkable creative talent and wholly dedicated to the craft and have challenges in being absorbed into theatre training programs at institutions of higher learning, will get an opportunity and be exposed to the many diverse skills required to initiate or enhance a career in professional theatre though the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy.
I emerged from the Dell’Arte professional training program convinced that, at times talent and passion alone, deprived of some training, are not enough attributes required for the development of the creative sector. Because of the journey that I took to the small town of Blue Lake in 2011, I am happy to say that I was positively transformed at Dell’Arte International School of physical theatre.