Etoundi Zeyang, Artistic Director of African Theatre Festival For Children and Young People, talks on the challenges of theatre in the country.
It is 20 years that the FATEJ festival is ongoing. What is behind your success in organising such an event?
We believe in what we are doing and I think it is also because through our theatre pieces, we help in the proper behavioural development of kids. We like what we are doing and that is why we continue doing it over and over. As of now, FATEJ is one of the permanent African festivals during which theatre pieces from the continent are presented at the international level.
We are doing our best to keep alive FATEJ through creating many connections around the world. Currently, FATEJ is hosting the meeting of the International Association of Theatre For Children and Young People. The association is here to experience the culture of Cameroonians and to see how far FATEJ is active in the society.
Just like in other cultural sectors, people are not so interested in theatre like before. What do you do to capture so much audience in your performances?
FATEJ is one of the festivals in Cameroon that knows it audiences. Throughout the year, FATEJ organises performances through its brand name; “Theâtre du Chocolat.” Through workshops and shows, we keep our audiences active. As such, when there is an event like FATEJ, it is easy to invite people who will happily come and enjoy themselves. Since FATEJ started last Friday, our audience keeps increasing in numbers.
The problem is also that actors do not offer good pieces to their audiences. So many people are adventurers in theatre. However, we offer good productions to our audiences which always make them want to come back.
What is the place of Cameroon theatre in Africa and the world at large?
We are lagging behind. We need to rebuild our theatre. In the past years, no particular work was done in theatre in Cameroon. We can only talk about theatre arts in Yaounde and Douala. We need to find audiences in other areas so that people can discover theatre in the entire nation. We need to rebuild Cameroon’s theatre.
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