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Gono appointed artist director

Young theatre practitioner Leeroy Gono has been appointed the new Resident Artistic Director for Charles Austin Theatre by the Masvingo Drama Circle.

by Silence Charumbira

The 28-year-old becomes the first black Zimbabwean to hold the post.
He is also the director of the annual Youth Cultural and Arts Festival held in the city and has won different awards as actor and director for different plays.

Masvingo Drama Circle executive director, Doug Hill hailed the appointment and said Charles Austin Theatre could now become a provincial hub of invigorated theatre.

“The coming in of Gono who was once with us in 2005-2006 is an achievement for the theatre,” he said.

“His experience as an actor and director will add value to the theatre. Bringing him down here was not an easy feat and we need people who will come forward, share and support this cause. This is the time for the business community, the corporate world and the government to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Hill said it had always been his passion and desire to see the theatre being used for its own purpose, “as a training centre for the Province and to find someone to carry this vision forward”.

Charles Austin Theatre, which is nearly 40 years old, has been in dire need of actors, directors and technical staff.

The theatre is currently under-utilised and activities and standards have deteriorated over the past few years.

Gono told Standardlife&style he was keen to preserve the theatre’s heritage.

“I am humbled and extremely honoured by the appointment and I will certainly carry the vision forward,” Gono said.

“The opening up of the theatre will aid in the development of a vibrant, inclusive and diverse theatre industry.

“We expect that people from as far as Chiredzi, Zaka, Mwenezi and Gutu are going to utilize the facilities.

He said one of his primary goals is to create a structure by which young Zimbabwean actors can access the necessary training and resources to produce new work reflecting the Zimbabwean experience, representing Zimbabwean culture locally and internationally.

“The Drama Circle will try to change the perception of the arts in Zimbabwe where it is characterised by poor management, low quality of work and poor livelihoods,” said Gono.

“It is my endeavour to turn this into a business where it’s run professionally and the artists are employed on a full time basis.”
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe deputy director Nicholas Moyo spoke highly of Gono’s appointment.

“It is a welcome development as Leeroy is quite young and very innovative. He has exhibited a lot of creativity, new way of entertaining audiences and zeal to see arts and culture going forward,” said Moyo.

“He has a rare talent and the corporate world should come in handy to support in either cash or kind. Personally, I wish him the best of luck in his new post.”

Great Zimbabwe University Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Herbert Chimhundu described Gono’s appointment as a milestone.

“He really deserves the honour, if one looks at his passion for culture and heritage. This will go a long way in integrating cultural artefacts in Masvingo province,” said Professor Chimhundu.

“I think a lot of our youths will see the relevance of arts and culture in self-actualisation. I urge him to continue working harder in the industry.”

Gono was born on October 10 1984 to a South African mother and Zimbabwean father in Masvingo.

He did his preschool in Port Elizabeth, South Africa before attending a number of schools in Masvingo, Beitbridge, Kwekwe and Harare.
His liking for arts developed at Highfield High 1 and 2 where he won a number of Best Actor Awards.

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