Naila Keleta-Mae | Theatre Research International
In 1980 the Republic of Zimbabwe became recognized internationally as an independent state. This independence marked a shift from white minority rule to black majority rule in the form of ZANU–PF in a transition in government that was fraught with brutal violence, tense negotiations and tremendous hope for the democratic state that would emerge. This article begins with a brief overview of key political-theatre and public-arts funding practices that emerged in the newly independent Zimbabwe in the 1980s and continues with an examination of an influential political play from the era by Cont Mhlange entitled Workshop Negative (1986). This article’s analysis of Workshop Negative considers how the economic pressures explored in the play mirror the precarious working conditions that arts-funding models placed on political-theatre practitioners in Zimbabwe at the time.