The annual speech and drama festival organised by the National Institute of Allied Arts (Niaa) drew well over 2 000 entries this year and has been in full swing since July 3.
By Rosie Mitchell
While the travelling Niaa team completed out of Harare sessions on July 7, adjudications in the capital city kicked off at Prince Edward School on July 6 with junior poetry recital, while senior poetry began four days later. Poetry recital is a very popular category each year, keeping adjudicator Rory Kilalea very busy right through to July 18 when the final poetry sessions were heard. Other entry categories assessed included prose recital, monologues and duologues. Meanwhile, adjudicator Gilian Barnard was kept equally busy assessing drama entries in their many forms — from mime to improvisation, news reading to experimental theatre, improvised advertising to playlets and excerpts, “one minute please” speeches and more.
Shakespearean sonnet, monologue and duologue recitals and play excerpts were assessed most of the day on July 15, with the following day devoted to dramatic improvisation and improvised advertising, adjudicated by Rory Kilalea.
Choral speaking, another very popular entry category, was held at Twin Rivers School and as usual, attracted much support from parents, teachers and the public, providing delightful entertainment and humour, the imaginative movements and actions incorporated in these recitals making them even more of a pleasure to enjoy.
The dance section of the festival took place at the National Ballet Centre on July 14 and 15, adjudicated by June Cloete and Yeukai Zinyoro-Chandiposha, both well-known in the local and international dance arena and both, experienced adjudicators. Entry categories were across the board — from traditional to hip-hop, ballet to contemporary to acro-jazz and more. Dance was introduced as a category in the speech and drama festival relatively recently and has proved a popular addition, completing the full spectrum of arts encompassed by the four Niaa festivals held annually. In addition to speech and drama, there is the Vocal and Instrumental Eisteddfod in March and the Literary and Visual Arts Festivals in September.
The Niaa was established over a century ago and has stood the test of time and challenge, providing a platform and launching pad for our up-and-coming artists across all genres, thus helping ensure that the arts in their many forms survive and thrive in this country. Children begin participating from Grade 0 upwards, and as the years roll by, fine-tune their artistic skills and develop enthusiasm for their favourite genres. This enjoyment and practice of art in many cases stays with these participants through their lifetimes and in some cases, becomes their profession.
Good attendance throughout the speech and drama adjudication sessions by parents, supporters and the interested public was gratifying, and the festival culminated last night at the packed final concert held at Twin Rivers School. This event showcased a selection of the very best and award-winning entries in this year’s festival. Each Niaa festival ends this way and gives the public an opportunity to enjoy the finest fruits of all the effort that goes into these endeavours.