Theatricality in the midst of a pandemic: An assessment of artistic responses to COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This article examines theatre as a creative journalistic media deployed by theatre practitioners to map experiences of Zimbabweans during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. When the first positive case of COVID-19 was reported in March 2020, the Zimbabwe government, like many other countries, responded by introducing restrictions for public gatherings and ultimately a lockdown including arts events. Yet, theatricality has refused to capitulate. Artists re-invented their theatre productions into theatrical comic and satirical works posted on various social media platforms, in an effort to make sense of the pandemic, bring laughter and address a serious complex situation. We examine how artists deployed theatre to journal, capture and document the citizen’s collective experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, for both the present and posterity. We are specifically interested in analysing the different ways art is deployed to provide entertainment, a broader understanding and awareness of the social, psychological and economic impact of COVID-19 for the present and future generations.

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Jill Walker Rettberg