Malawi has joined the rest of the world in theatre promotion with the creation of a new theatre body dedicated to children and young people known as Assitej Malawi.
Assitej is the short form for International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People.
“This short form is from Association International du Theatre pour l’Enfance et la Jeunesse),”Fumbani Phiri, who is the body’s general secretary, said.
There are over 80 member countries of Assitej, with Malawi being the latest member.
Phiri, who is an actor and playwright and stars with YDC Theatre, said Assitej is dedicated to artistic, cultural and educational rights of children and young people across the globe.
“This is something big for Malawi in terms of growing theatre as well as looking at young people and children.
“Assitej brings together individuals and organisations with the aim of sharing knowledge and practices of theatre for children and young people so as to deepen understanding and create new opportunities that support the creation and growth of theatre for children,” Phiri said.
He said, within the region, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa already have national chapters.
Phiri said the purpose for the formation of Assitej Malawi, in addition to supporting the world in promoting theatre for children is to identify, preserve and promote culture among children and expose them to the world.
“It is common practice that, when creating theatre products for the public, the focus is usually on adult audiences and children are left out in many cases. We need children to be encouraged to watch theatre and also partake in theatre by showcasing their talents,” he said.
Phiri said Assitej Malawi would strive to expose children to media and also give them a platform to showcase their talent.
“Assitej Malawi will endeavour to provide the Malawian child with the right environment, exercise and play that foster mental, intellectual, emotional and social growth for the development of the country,” he said.
Phiri also said Assitej recognises the need to expose children to positive creative environments and performances that foster their emotional and mental well-being as the country moves towards Vision 2063.
He said the body is in its preparatory stages following its registration with Assitej International.
Meanwhile, a steering committee has been set up with veteran playwright and drama lecturer Smith Likongwe as the president. The other members are Tawonga Nkhonjera (operations manager), James Kitchen (schools coordinator), Pleasant Banda (publicity and communications officer), Tissie Chimombo (treasurer) and Ellastas Msiska (youth coordinator).