Charles Austin Theatre is Zimbabwe's third largest theatre which was founded in 1974 by Doug Hill together with Jimmy Millar and Tony Weare.
Charles Austin Theatre first opened its doors officially in 1974 and has been functional since. It is run by a committee made up of young vibrant theatre practitioners, artistes and entrepreneurs.
Masvingo Theatre and Arts Club celebrated the legacy of Charles Austin Theatre founding father, Doug Hill, through the inaugural Doug Hill High Schools Drama Festival which was slated for 1 and 2 August 2017. Club chairperson Charles Munganasa confirmed the event was used as a platform to nurture artistic talent.
“The festival seeks to cement Doug Hill’s theatre legacy at the same time offering platforms for young people to develop their skills. There is no better way to say thank you to a man who has made theatre a part of his life putting tireless effort and resources in grooming and nurturing young talents,” he said.
Munganasa said the theatre was able to bankroll its own programmes since 1974 and that was worth celebrating.
“The creative arts industry is one of the less funded industries in Zimbabwe. Most organisations depend on donor funding. However, the case is different with the Charles Austin Theatre which has managed to self-sustain since 1974. Such persistence needs to be celebrated,” he said.
Schools including Eveline High School, Gifford, Victoria, Zimuto, Berejena, Rufaro, Mucheke, Dewure, Shingirirai, Madzivanyika, Pamushana, Masvingo Christian College and Hippo Valley High School performed at the event.
The awards included Best Production, Best Achievement, Best Stage Craft, Best Technical Play, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Cameo.
Charles Austin Theatre boasts having groomed artistes including Ba Shupi, Ras Caleb and the Sabhuku Vharazipi crew. In 2016 the theatre's first film Seiko won a National Arts Merit Awards award for being the best short film. Munganasa also directed Great Zimbabwe University’s film Solo naMutsai.