19th September 2018
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Zimbabwean theatre group to stage school workshops

FIVE members of the Grassroots Theatre Company from Zimbabwe arrive in Shetland this weekend for a 10-day visit.

The company specialises in what it calls “theatre for development”, using dance, drama and music in order to inform people about developmental issues in Zimbabwe. There are five people in the Grassroots group that will be visiting.

The Grassroots company was founded by a group of college students from Bulawayo in 1990. They work in Britain for between four and six months a year. For the rest of the time they are at home in Zimbabwe where they work in their local communities. Their intention is to help people to identify the root causes of their situations and its limitations.

Grassroots member Darlene Ngweyna said: “We aim to empower people to break through the circumstances which keep them trapped in poverty.”

The work tends not to be paid and the company has to keep a low profile as what it does could be perceived as subversive, particularly in the current political climate.

While in Shetland Grassroots will be delivering workshops for 10 schools, funded by Scottish Arts Council’s youth music initiative programme through the SIC schools service.

The events will take place in the Ollaberry Hall, Sound Hall, Voe Hall and the Aith Hall. Participating schools will be Ollaberry Primary, Mossbank Primary, North Roe Primary, Urafirth Primary, Nesting Primary, Lunnasting Primary, Olnafirth Primary, Sound Primary, Bressay Primary and Aith Junior High School. SIC cultural co-ordinator Frances Browne said she was very excited about the opportunity.

“This is a wonderful experience for pupils; they will learn about another culture and important issues such as poverty and citizenship, through music and dance. The sessions will be lively, rewarding and fit into curriculum for excel­lence perfectly.”

The Shetland African drum group, Aestaewast, met Grassroots two weeks ago when a group of 30 Shetlanders camped at a week-long “drum village” at Glen Isla. The week included drumming classes as well as African dance and singing. The Grassroots team were among the teachers, taking singing and dance sessions as well as performing.

Joy Duncan, who founded Aes­tae­wast, said: “It’s really exciting that Grassroots are coming all the way to Shetland. It will be a wonderful opportunity to experi­ence new things.”

For people not fortunate enough to catch Grassroots in schools, the company will be giving a free half hour public performance in Shet­land Library in Lerwick next Friday at 4.15 pm.

Pupils who would like to see more of them can attend one of two open workshop at Clickimin on Saturday 30th August (1-2pm for school age children and 2.30-4pm for adults).

In addition Grassroots will per­form at a concert in Sound Hall on Wednesday 3rd September, where the tickets sold will help to raise money for the company’s work.