|Arts fraternity celebrates Muparutsa’s life|
|Wednesday, 30 May 2012 21:28|
The event that was attended by renowned theatre artistes, journalists and arts personalities, was a befitting homage to a man who committed his life to more than four decades of dedication to a demanding performing arts practice.
Walter touched the lives of many people in Zimbabwe, be it in communities, churches, and associations in the arts development and the arts and culture industry that was enriched by his life’s work. Andrew Whaley, a renowned actor and writer of “Platform Five”, “The Rise and Shine of Cde Fiasco”, and “Nyoka Tree”, who has been a casting director of more than 40 films and has acted in as many films and is now based in Cape Town, narrated how he met Muparutsa in 1980.
It included his meetings with Muparutsa, Dominic Kanaventi, John Haig, Ben Sibenke, the late Karl Dorn and others mostly in Karl Dorn’s shop before independence.
Whaley highlighted the impact of the Muparutsa and Kanaventi theatre works with the Athol Fugard plays and plays like “Platform Five” which were examples of the content and quality of theatre expected at that stage of the development of Zimbabwean theatre.
He also recollected the exciting period working with Muparutsa in a number of plays at Theatre in the Park and at international festivals.
“Walter listened. We need to listen to others. He was an excellent actor who portrayed bad characters so well that you would fall in love with them.”
Elvas Mari, the director of the National Arts Council, also shared his experiences and encounters that he had with the late thespian.
“He was the father of the arts. He was always respectful of all. He was frank and was always able to see the big picture of things. He was a nationalist. He worked well with everybody for the good of the arts and culture sector.”
Renowned actor, theatre director, producer and promoter Daves Guzha said he met Muparutsa in 1984 when he used to come from school in Marondera every weekend to Harare for theatre training.
Their relationship blossomed in 1997 when they started working together at Rooftop Promotions in several plays that toured the country and several international festivals.
“Walter knew people. He was very connected. He could challenge authority and stand his ground. In Walter, the country has not just lost a theatre icon but also a cultural gatekeeper. The arts industry has lost a formidable gatekeeper.”
Veteran journalist and theatre critic Ray Mawerera also spoke highly of Muparutsa’s artistic excellence and his good relations with colleagues. “In 1980 I was a sprightly young journalist, effusing with zest and energy and unmitigated passion for my craft. The newspapers were vibrant. Art was vibrant. Independence was oh-so-sweet!”
Mawerera further narrated his first encounter with the performance of Athol Fugard’s “Sizwe Bansi is Dead”. He stated: “There on stage at the Gallery I saw two crazy actors bringing message alive. One whom we are remembering today was Walter Muparutsa. His partner was Dominic Kanaventi.
“I had never seen anything like that. I was bowled over. I lapped up everything those guys had to offer. I gave them every space and every drop of ink the newspaper could allow me.”
Other speakers included prominent writer and cultural activist Virginia Phiri, executive director of Culture Fund Farai Mupfunya.
They spoke of the late Muparutsa as an adviser who was accessible to all artistes and that he made sure that all artistes were aware of “the potholes, fires and many hazards to their artistic careers”.
Leeroy Gono, a young theatre director and actor, revealed that the late Muparutsa was assisting him in a developing a project entitled “Artists Hotspot”— a forum where young and upcoming artistes would meet established artistes to dialogue on critical issues that impinge on the viability of artistes in Zimbabwe. At the end of the evening it was clear that arts and culture practitioners present were committed to follow the leadership of the National Arts of Zimbabwe in taking up the three ways of honouring and immortalising the Muparutsa legacy which were recommended that evening.
It was clear the arts and culture practitioners and members of the family accepted the recommendation to construct a medium size theatre facility with technical dimensions required by the present-day theatre community.
The idea of renaming an existing theatre building in honour of the late thespian was considered inappropriate.
The second idea of approaching one of the universities at which the late Muparutsa made contributions in theatre development and promotion, to consider awarding him an honorary degree posthumously, was considered most feasible, befitting and appropriate.
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