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Drum Beat: Opening show: The door to artistic wizardry

The fireworks will obviously light a sea of multi-racial faces that traditionally forms in front of the main stage every opening night of the festival each year.
Local and international art lovers will applaud the beginning of yet another exciting week of an arts fete of global acclaim.

Local and international artists will, that night, stage another unique but message-laden opening production reflective of the topical issues of the day in many ways.

Hifa opening productions have always been engaging, reflective, thought-provoking and exceptional. Those that attended previous editions will remember opening productions like Treasure, Carmina Burana, Out of Darkness – A Rite to Passage and Dreamland that exuded immense creativity.

This year the opening production will have the same title as the festival theme “A Show of Spirit”.

The opening show will usher an array of theatre, dance and music productions that will colour the festival throughout the week. The festival has many faces and different meanings to various people it brings together.

One thing has always been outstanding at Hifa — it is atime to savour exciting international acts, a time to fellowship with friends and relatives in a relaxed environment and a time to admire creativity.

The Opening Bira ceremony has over the years brought a traditional dimension to the festival when audiences enjoy traditional music, beer and food.

Theatre productions at Hifa have always brought serious topical and historical issues to the fore. The productions usually question, reflect and give audiences a lighter view of daily experiences of people from various races, countries and tribes.

Musical acts have always presented festival-goers with a wide selection of quality entertainment and with this year’s main act featuring Oliver Mtukudzi and Ismael Lo of Senegal, it is likely to be another memorable journey.

There have been various collaborations between local and international artists and this year is no exception.

HIFA offers different things to different people

 

over the years, I have observed that besides being an arts fete, Hifa has grown to be an exciting social space.

In the Coca-Cola Green, socialites have come to eat, drink and have fun. The arena has also been a point of family outings when, besides the art and performances on stage, families just come to have fun. The Green Room has also proved to be a place of social, and sometimes business meetings where festival goers engage in discussions in a serene environment.

Because Hifa is mainly associated with affluence, some visitors to the festival take attendance to the festival as a reflection of their (or intended, preferred) social standings.

The evening shows in Coca Cola Green have proved popular as habitual merrymakers turn this fun-filled arena into their daily drinking venue for the whole week. There are audiences that do not really care about shows but the fun and ambiance that the festival brings to the Harare Gardens and surrounding areas. It is a time to make friends and even meet new lovers.

For some, especially security personnel or bouncers, as they are commonly known, Hifa is always a serious annual employment opportunity they would not dare miss. It also makes business sense to catering and beverages businesses.

Above all, Hifa is holiday time for many visitors — a time to relax and make merry. So, besides being a serious arts festival, Hifa will always have many faces. When fireworks illuminate the sky on Tuesday night, they will also spark various activities besides art.

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