Far from bright stage lights and the energy of real live audiences in rows of seats, HERE, THERE, NOW brought women actors of Bulawayo and London together in virtual spaces, exchanging experiences over thousands of miles, in homes and studios in the two cities, listening and understanding each other.
In response to Black Lives Matter and events of 2020 including the ongoing effects of the pandemic, the online collaboration was created to provide young women the agency, power and platform to share their voice and stories with others who are experiencing the same issues from the other side of the globe.
Led by award-winning artist Lady Tshawe in Bulawayo, and UK-based theatre director Monique Touko in London, the project brought twenty young women together online through a series of workshops to create new stories exploring womanhood, identity and race that are written and performed by the company and shared digitally in both nations.
The artists’ monologues, inspired by their individual experiences and created through the workshops, are performed by their overseas counterparts, filmed and shared online by Nhimbe Trust and Lyric Theatre on YouTube, and social media.
In spite of the huge differences between the two groups, a common and recurring theme emerged: So different and so much the same. There are nuggets of gold for young women and everyone everywhere, and viewers are invited to be inspired.
Lady Tshawe said it has been an interesting experience using the ‘new normal’ format of work being done online. “It has been a huge learning curve for everyone, but this exchange, I believe, will inspire the participants to explore and challenge themselves creatively” she said.
One of the UK participants, Felicia Akin-Tayo, a student at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, said:
“Here, There, Now is everything and more than what I expected it to be. From the first session on zoom, I immediately felt comfortable, safe and empowered amongst the group of females present. What excites about the project is that I don’t know exactly how our piece will come out but I am certain that everything we put into the project from our discussions, text, skills and our voice will be from a place of truth because that is what the project has allowed us to be. Truthful. So I am excited because I hope that our truth will not only be watched and heard but will inspire other females, not just in the UK, to feel more comfortable and confident in their own truth.”
Zimbabwean participants directed by Lady Tshawe, are Getrude Munhamo-Pfumayaramba, Thandy Dhlana, Privilege Mathema, Sidumisile Mtethwa, Pamela Mnkandla, Laura Ngwenya, Hazel Moyo, Antonatte Maphosa, Shammah Banda and Edith Masango.
UK participants directed by Monique Touko, are Hannah Balogun, Amaliyah Allison-Pounder, Na’eemah N’Diage, Felicia Akin-Adaramola, Yiga Gaolou, Taga Obano-Cox, Hannah Balogun, Deja Linton, Joanita Markin and Nyasha Hernandez.
Partners – The Here, There, Now project is implemented in a partnership between Nhimbe Trust and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, and is kindly supported by the British Council Digital Collaboration and Storytelling scheme.
Women in Theatre & Television – HERE, THERE, NOW is one of the recent activities of the Women in Theatre & Television project by Nhimbe Trust, which has developed and staged several stirring and highly acclaimed musical productions in the last few years, including ‘Tellers – The Musical’ in 2017 and ‘Blood Tongue – THE Musical’ in 2018. WiTT has been strongly supported by a long-term partnership with Africalia, Belgium, and has seen the rise of women artists of the city in theatre, poetry, music and dance, some of whom have reached award-winning status and birthed their own creative initiatives.
Watch the fascinating exchange of stories here.
Source: Nhimbe Trust