The theatre is a place that thrives on gathering.
But as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic puts an interminable halt to this year’s programme, the National Theatre of Namibia is tasked with finding alternative ways to connect with theatremakers and enthusiasts.
One such initiative is ‘A Day in the Life’, an IGTV series archived on Instagram which spotlights a different theatre profession in each episode.
First to take the screen is the NTN’s artistic director Nelago Shilongoh, who invites us into her office and to locations within the theatre while sipping on sugar-free lemon tea.
Offering insight into the role of artistic director, which, despite the glamourous title, includes a lot of administration and research before getting to the more fun bits of mentoring young artists, rehearsing productions and workshopping scripts, the series plans to progress with segments about the extended NTN team.
“The theatre’s operations are centralised on gatherings and, with the priorities and measures at hand, programming has been interrupted greatly by the pandemic,” says Shilongoh, who announces that, as a result, the 2021/22 season has, in fact, been called off.
While non-contact projects continue and funding applications are reviewed, the NTN team is hard at work planning the 2022 season while maintaining relationships with various cultural and creative stakeholders.
Despite major setbacks and the gap where buzzy programming such as Theatre Zone and the Premier Productions used to be, the NTN has managed to unearth opportunity amid the current crisis.
This year, the theatre has leaned towards learning through a series of dance and applied theatres workshops while calls for short radio scripts in local languages as well as for artists with disabilities have been a prelude to what is in store next season.
“Circumstances have allowed the theatre to embrace the other roles that it plays in the sector such as in the areas of education, capacity development and research,” says Shilongoh.
“We are also strengthening relationships and expanding partnerships, in order to emerge prepared once the pandemic overcomes its critical stage in Namibia.”
Meanwhile, enthusiasts are encouraged to tune in to the IGTV series and theatre lovers are also welcome to purchase DVDs of recent productions for their viewing pleasure.
“The public can also subscribe to NTN’s YouTube channel where we will be releasing educational and introspective videos on applied theatre and dance practices in contemporary Namibia,” says Shilongoh.
“Artists and cultural organisers are welcome to contact me at [email protected] should they wish to engage with the theatre on any developing projects and ideas.”