HIFA 2014 – Day 6

6 05 2014

HIFA is now over of course. My internet did not work for a full 3 days which is why these posts are late. It took an hour on the phone to a support centre and the good fortune to be chatting to a technician who actually did know what he was talking about to sort it out. It’s still erratic but at least it is working.

I thought the programme this year was good. I only saw 2 plays that I thought were sub-standard but that is the nature of arts festivals. I cannot answer the question as to which was my favorite show but I did really enjoy the acoustic guitarists, all of whom were exceptional in their own way. It is of course common knowledge by now that the government blocked the visas of the South African pop group Freshly Ground who were due to play at the closing ceremony on this last day sponsored by Old Mutual, an insurance company. This was apparently over a song that the group released some years back that mocked the president of Zimbabwe (see this link). In true HIFA fashion a plan was made, another German group stepped up to the stage along with a host of other international artistes and the show went on!

I did not attend the final closing but did get to see a few other things. First on the list was the local National Ballet production – the Breakthrough. A real crowd pleaser with a bit of contemporary ballet and just about every other genre of dance one could think of. It purported to show how all these other styles developed from classical ballet but I wouldn’t vouch for the accuracy of that. The crowd didn’t mind and it was well attended on both days.


It was with more than a bit of trepidation that I made my way to the finals of The Trash Queen fashion show but it was not at all what I thought it would be. Participants had to design and make a fashion attire from trash. Any sort of trash would do – air filter, bubble wrap, CDs and loads of other rubbish was used. Participants were individuals and self-help groups, remand centre children and local schools. Fun!

Right after the fashion show I moved nearly next door to hear a South African group John Wizards (apparently named after a band member). They seemed pretty chilled. And the music?  It sounded like it came from Cape Town. Afro something or other. Not my taste.


Then it was time to go home, exercise and feed the dogs and come back to REPS theatre for Bend it Like Beauty with Ben Voss posing as a Zulu woman who succeeds in insulting just about everyone. Very funny but he had to excise rather a lot of political material and as a result I recognized a lot of stuff from a previous show a few years back. Freedom of speech is enshrined in our constitution but does not apply to everybody. I did not take photos – there are only so many photos one can take of a comedian on stage and anyway, I wanted a break!

HIFA 2012 – Day 6

7 05 2012

Well, HIFA has come to an end for another year and yes, it’s a bit sad in a way. I really enjoy the excitement, the activity, the BUZZ of the place! In my opinion it was one of the best HIFAs I have seen. There were some really great acts, some very imaginative ones and one that was truly original; Leo. I only saw one show that was amateurish and that was the hip hop dance; Live Vibe. For sheer virtuosity my award goes to Jazz Tap Ensemble but then it’s difficult to compare with say, Derek Gripper. I did not see much theatre so I cannot make any comments there except to say that what I did see was good though not exactly uplifting!

My last day was pretty relaxed. Ary Morais was another Cape Verdian and by the end of it everyone was clapping along to the infectious beat. Local boy Blessing stole the show a bit on the drums but the music belonged to the band.

Dr. K-Sextet played some decidedly contemporary classical music then ended with a crowd pleasing Ravel’s Bolero that had the audience asking for more but the show had started late due to a previous church service.

Haari Kuusijarvi gave a very relaxed show of Finnish contemporary music on the accordion thanks to the Finnish Embassy in Lusaka. The final act of the day for me was the Dutch pop band Adlicious who got the crowd on their feet at the 7 Arts theatre. They don’t normally play in theatres but clubs and their music reflected it. They also normally have a backing group but it didn’t affect their singing and they entertained in style.

Notes on the equipment I used:

Nikon D90 with 18-105 F4-5.6 zoom
Velbon monopod – flash was mostly prohibited and I don’t like using it anyway.
Kingston 16GB class 4 SDD card
I use GIMP 2 for post processing but that was limited to the occasional cropping – I did not have time for the fancy stuff.

HIFA 2012 – Day 5

6 05 2012

A busy day it started with the National Ballet show which despite its name included a huge variety of styles; ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and probably some others that I’ve forgotten. Visually very appealing and the capacity crowd loved it.

Then some very different contemporary dance works by Shi Pratt and Tawanda Chabikwa which I frankly didn’t get followed by local theatre When Angels Weep about child trafficking in Zimbabwe. At the end of the show the British director, whom I know a little, asked me what I thought. “Good theatre but very depressing” I replied and then added; “and for all one knows probably true”. “Well” he replied, “it probably is as I know the writer did his research well”.  I was quite taken aback at the time but now I realise that I was being very naive. This sort of thing is prevalent elsewhere in the 3rd world, did I honestly expect it not to be happening here?

Lorna Kelly and Friends was well, not exactly a rock show. For some reason the soprano chose a lot of lullaby songs which not too surprisingly were soporific. The last composition was quite fun but I must have slept through the air-guitar number (if indeed there was one)!

24583 Little Creepy Wonders was children’s theatre by Italian Scarletine Teatro who brought us Manolibera a couple of years ago. Featuring balloons as ugly children.  It was mostly in Italian but the kids in the audience loved it as did a few adults.

The final show of the day was The Armed Man – a Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins which was performed by a local choral group with guest artistes. A great way to end the day – well done guys!

HIFA – Day 4

5 05 2012

A very interesting day. A Handful of Keys with Ian von Memerty and Roelof Colyn was sheer entertainment; two pianos expertly played and homage paid and satired to the greats of piano from Fats Domino to Elton John. Very funny and quite risqué. A near capacity audience at the 7 Arts theatre loved it!

Maria de Barros and her band then entertained at the Global Stage in the main HIFA gardens complex. A Cape Verdian with a good band behind her she had the audience on its feet with a mixture of soul and a touch of reggae and well, all sorts! Not really my style of music but certainly fun.

My prize so far for sheer creativity goes to Leo put on by the German physical theatre company Circle of Eleven. Featuring just one actor in a 3 sided box which was then projected onto another screen rotate 90 degrees – just about anything becomes possible. It’s a bit difficult to see what’s going on in my photos as I was sitting on the right of the stage when it would have been better to sit in the middle. The show starts off funny, becomes a bit sad but in the end descends into a nightmare.

The next prize for shear difference goes to Dream Streets & Labyrinth performed by New York based Cornelius Dufallo. Even he failed to describe the music he plays. Mostly violin with his own backing instrumentals recorded on computer the music is played with some very different visuals projected onto a big screen behind him. I liked it enough to buy a CD but I suspect it will take some getting used to and am not sure how well it will work without the video. As one spectator said behind me at the end; “Not your average HIFA performance”. No, but it was great all the same! Bravo, it took some courage to put that on. See the next performance if you like exploring different music.

HIFA 2012 – Day 2

2 05 2012

Day two of HIFA 2012 kicked off warm and clear with lots of action, music and drama. Today I did not take in any dance although the Gri Eshe!  ensemble was billed under the dance section there was not much of it.

HIFA 2012 – Day 1

1 05 2012

HIFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts) kicked off today. This year was particularly difficult, not only due to the dire financial situation of the country and a lack of sponsors/partners, but also due to government interference. Anyway, I resumed my usual role of a photographer for the daily news-sheet and was given carte blanche today to get on

with it. I started with Big Boys Don’t Dance written and performed by Bradley and Ash Searle.

Big Boys Don’t Dance

The South African brothers play brothers whose bachelor party goes wrong with hilarious results. The upset a few stereotypes of male dancers along the way too.

But they certainly can dance!

I stayed at the same venue for Live Vibe, a mix of various hip-hop dance crews. Some were OK,  others not. I don’t mind hip-hop at top level but this was not that good.

Live Vibe – one of the better dances

Live Vibe – a local dance crew

Between the Lines was a collaboration between Tumbuka, a local dance company and Belgian based director Harold George.

Between the Lines

Between the Lines

I was a bit late getting to the recital hall where Nicky Crow and Kymia Kermani were playing contemporary classical music so had to go for the “atmosphere” type of photograph. Contemporary classical is not my forte, I suspect one has to be a bit musical to appreciate it but the audience seemed to enjoy it.

Nicola Crowe – the atmospheric shot!

Ricardo Coelho and Cristina Castro of Pe na Terra

Portuguese group Pe na Terra were sold out at the Global Stage and with good reason. Vibrant was the key word and they really put on a show of “jazzed up” Portuguese music.

Pe na Terra – all but the drummer

Lead singer Cristina Castro was extraordinarily charismatic and very photogenic to boot!

Pe na Terra

It is going to take a while for my ears to recover but I was very pleased to see that the lighting has been vastly improved from last year – I used to dread taking photos at this venue.

HIFA 2010 – final day

4 05 2010

I took it easy. I must have been HIFAed out like a lot of people are by the end of the festival. So it was just The World’s Wife, a collection of poetry by Carol Ann Duffy performed by Linda Marlowe and Threads, a contemporary dance piece performed by Moving Into Dance Mophatong from South Africa.

I was not familiar with Carol Ann Duffy’s work but it was a witty (sometimes rapier wit) collection of poems where she imagined being famous wives, or rather, wives of famous men. Faust, Quasimodo, the Devil, and Orpheus all featured amongst a few others. It helped to be familiar with who the characters were and it was very entertainingly put together by Linda Marlow to a capacity audience.

The World's Wife

Somehow Threads just didn’t appeal to me. I don’t think it was a bad production or the dancing was sub-standard; far from it. I just got tired of the poetry approach to dance. I prefer music thanks. There was some music to the piece and I did enjoy it more.


HIFA 2010 – day 5

2 05 2010

2/3 Trio Broz

Given enough musical talent you can do just about anything, including mixing classical with rap. Trio Broz are better known for their considerable classical ability so I was interested to see how well they would fuse with a Zimbabwean rap artist (Outspoken) and a conventional band. Surprisingly well! In a show entitled Musicolour it all came together well – I wonder how often they have played Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the water” with a rock band?

Just Papers was a small Zimbabwean play sponsored with the help of British Council who seem to be heavily involved in the arts scene in Zimbabwe at the moment. It was a simple story well acted and I even got a half decent photo out of it!

Just Papers

I am not usually a fan of reggae but, what the hell, at HIFA one has to take off the blinkers occasionally so I took mine off for Transit Crew with Yasus Afari. The latter is a genuine rasta man from Jamaica and he had some interesting advice for the capacity crowd which I found very funny though I think he was being serious. Yes, he even had a button with a picture of Haille Sellasie (sp?) on his jacket. Yes, I did enjoy the show and Transit Crew are competent musicians though I don’t think I’ll be out to buy any reggae just yet.

Transit Crew

HIFA 2010 – day 4

30 04 2010

OK, so I bought the CD at the end of the show in a fit of live show excitement. The CD is good but of course there is more to a live show than music. Living Room is Austrian musicians Christoph Auer and Manu Delago who play some unusual instruments. Like just about everyone in the audience I’d seen neither a bass clarinet or a hang (pronounced “hung”) – the latter looking rather like 2 woks joined together but much more musical! They played a whole mix of music and even hammed it up with paper being rustled, pulled and torn and also another plastic device that looked like something out of a comic book. But once Christoph Auer had added his clarinet mouthpiece and a few more bits it really sounded good. Bravo!

Living Room with bass clarinet and hang

Yes, it actually was musical!

iKapa Dance Theatre are a young and dynamic dance group from South Africa. They performed Stadium, in yes, a makeshift stadium. I don’t pretend that I know much about contemporary dance but I did enjoy the performance and oh boy, do those girls have hot bodies!

iKapa Dance Theatre in Stadium


I have been to the Poetry Cafe when there was a distinct air of revolution about and found the quite inflammatory poetry invigorating. This afternoon it was milder though no less enjoyable stuff from both local and foreign poets. Even Zimbabwean music legend Oliver Mutukudzi was there and lent a hand to one of his prodigies.

Hivos Poetry Cafe - a UK poet entertains

HIFA 2010 – day 3

29 04 2010

Tariro. Yes, I admit it, I had a few issues with this one. I generally felt it was unfinished work – it could have done with some trimming and paring (too long) and definitely a bit of polishing, like another month or so. The story had merit but was very drawn out and I don’t care about pedigrees of those who wrote, directed etc. – the play was riddled with cliches and that gets me like nothing else. I have really heard it all about us nasty white colonialists and that I guess is a point of view but when the aforementioned whites arrive on stage with pith helmets and statements such as “I say, we have run out of whisky wot?” I am more than a little unimpressed. Come on guys, use a bit of imagination? They did not use the talent available either. On the few occasions that the cast was allowed to sing it really did! However, I set myself the task of getting some good photos.


The Dance Foundation Course is definitely my favourite local dance group. I saw them last year and got some great photos. They did not disappoint today either but they were moving way too fast to get good photos. The programme says: “Sublime technical skill combines with the spontaneity and unbridled energy of youth”. I will go with that. It was also a huge amount of fun and they did not lose the opportunity to add a bit of politics (as shows are doing this year) too. Great stuff – thanks guys!

Dance Foundation Course - After the dust settles

I didn’t have my programme on me so I just looked at the time table and saw the next performance at the REPS theatre was a show called Manolibera. Sort of Spanish sounding but I had time to kill before the next play and well, it’s HIFA, why not take a chance? It’s this sort of show that keeps me fascinated in the arts. An artist with an overhead projector, a screen and two clowns. Fish swam, smoke (sugar poured onto the overhead) clouded into a car drawn around the clowns and shopping piled up. All courtesy of the artist (who created a lot of the sound effects too) and the overhead projector. Very clever.


Marathon is a great story with good acting by two local actors and directed by Giles Ramsey. Two men set out on a night run and discuss life, each other, relationships and confront their own future. ‘Nuff said – see it if you can.