A PROMISING Zimbabwe-born playwright-cum-actress Zodwa Nyoni has begun writing her own piece of history in theatre after winning the prestigious Channel 4 writer-in-residence award for classical theatre last year.
She was in Bulawayo over the weekend courtesy of the Voices in Colour (VIC) exhibition organised by VIC curator Mthabisi Phili.
VIC is currently running an exhibition under the theme “Reciprocal Narratives About Place”, a concept which explores parallels and differences in people’s interactions with places and how different environments impact on their identities, perceptions and experiences.
Nyoni has been invited for her one-person performance Home Has Died which vividly explores the effects of migration and their impact on one’s life.
“I migrated between England and Zimbabwe from a young age so I have been influenced by both societies,” Zodwa revealed in a question-and-answer session after her screened performance.
“I remember when I was a teenager living in Leeds, at school other children would ask my sisters and I whether we had lions and elephants in our back garden.
“This sensitised us on how we were different from everyone else.”
“When my family returned to Zimbabwe we were pointed out as the ‘English girls’,” adding: “My stay in both Zimbabwe and England left me displaced in both countries as I struggled to fit.”
Asked what influenced her to come up with an emotional Home Has Died performance, she revealed: “My work exists in the space between these two places (England and Zimbabwe) hence I plucked my family history and traditions from Zimbabwe and mixed them with my experiences from England to create stories that reflect who I am.”
Nyoni holds an Honours degree in Event and Performance and a Master of Art in Writing for Performance and Publication from Leeds University.
She has been performing at West Yorkshire Playhouse as part of Speak Women Speak and as a Writer in Paines Plough’s Come to Where I’m From, having made a breakthrough to the Playhouse through a group of young writers in residence at the “I Love West Leeds” Festival in 2010.
Currently, the writer-cum-actress resides in the UK where she is nurturing her talent while pursuing academics.