Home » Arts & Culture » Hifa Off to Poor Start

The six-day Harare International Festival of the Arts opened on Tuesday to a rather lousy presentation of Doris Lessing’s story titled “The Sun Between Their Feet”, which tells of the repeated determined attempts of two dung beetles to scale the heights of a rock with their “precarious cargo.”

Not only did the theme “Switch On” fail to resonate well with the huge audiences that turned up on the first day of HIFA, but also the show had its fair share of bleeps and blunders.

Comprising musicians and dancers who will feature in several HIFA 2014 shows including “A Simple Space Remix Culture” and Tumbuka’s two programmes, as well as performers from the Barefeet Theatre Zambia and Zimbabwe’s Drum Cafe, the show was disjointed.

The show was directed by Brooke Ciardelli, a multiple award-winning American theatre director, as well as founder and former artistic director of Northern Stage, Vermont. Stage design was by our own Heeten Bhagat and Carine Tredgold.

Not surprisingly, the action on stage ran concurrently with what was being screened on two huge screens on each side of the stage with most of the content being subtle sexual messages never mind the orientation.

While people from various walks of life thronged the Telecel Main stage for the much anticipated show some were left unconvinced by the disjointed act on stage.

The presentation itself was dull as opposed to the “switching on” and “lighting up the darkness” which was in fact, the thrust of the Opening Show.

By the way which “darkness” was being talked about and in what way was a dung beetle (duta ndove) supposed to light up the darkness?

These are some of the things that left the audience hanging instead of making it clear from the outset what sort of messages they were supposed to consume.

Another notable blunder was the poor sound for the greater part of the show which saw Oliver Mtukudzi doing both leading and backing vocals on the song “Perekedza Mwana”.

Although Tuku as was received by wild applause when he jumped on the stage the excitement just died as the backing vocalists Ammara Brown and Cynthia Mare failed to match the superstar. Brown and Mare seemed overwhelmed and could not find their rhythm due to poor sound such that Mtukudzi’s performance just became flat. However, old timers, the Cool Crooners brought back the verve with a polished act.

That said, there was a bit of mistiming of the fireworks especially that the performance on stage should climax with the fireworks display. Overally, the opening show left a lot to be desired considering HIFA goers had seen better productions before. Some critics also said the return of Manuel Bagorro as the artistic director for 2014 was in itself an ant-climax.

Source : The Herald