Performing through the Pandemic takes theatre online
January - April 2021
Zimbabwe // Nigeria
Initiated by Savanna Trust in Zimbabwe, Performing through the Pandemic is a project that is aimed at strengthening collaboration, co-creation and the use of digital technologies for theatrical presentations and distribution among theatre makers from West and Southern Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Three writers from West and Southern Africa will work under a mentor to write three scripts that will be produced and presented by three theatre companies from Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These will be presented through an integrated online platform.
WRITER & DRAMATURGE PROFILES
Gideon Jeph Wabvuta (Zimbabwe) is a writer, solo actor and teaching artist. He is a 2019 graduate of the University of Southern California MFA Dramatic Writing programme. At present he is the programmes coordinator for Almasi Collaborative Arts whilst serving as an Ojai Playwrights Conference Associate Artist and teaching in in the OPC Youth Workshop. His work as a writer includes Family Riots, a play which was awarded the Distinguished Mention for the Rosa Parks and Lorraine Hansberry awards by the Kennedy Center in 2019. The same play was also staged as part of the New Works Two Festival at USC. He also developed Master’s Shoe at the Almasi African Playwrights festival which led to him creating his solo show Mbare Dreams At OPC which he again performed at the Revolutions Festival 2016 in Albuquerque New Mexico. His play The Color of Blood, showcased at Pasadena Playhouse, also won the Paragon playwriting award. His works have been showcased in multiple countries around the world and he has taught writing in various countries. He has also worked in the US tv industry as a writer and writer’s assistant for shows in development with Hulu and HBO Max. Gideon’s artistic goal is to create works of art that will reclaim and reframe the African narrative on the world stage.
Malunga Francis (Zambia) is a 37-year old professional script writer, who writes for television, radio and theatre. His career includes being one of writers of the first Zambian soap opera Kabanana, writing for the Zambia National Broadcasting TV series. Malunga has been nominated for and won several awards for his scriptwriting. He has written for BBC radio dramas with dB studios. His other plays have been performed in different international festivals, like the Harare international festival (Zimbabwe), Jika international Festivals (SA) etc.
Bimbo Manuel [Nigeria, co-writer] is a directing major of the University of Port Harcourt Creative Arts Department, and one of the most respected practitioners in the Nigerian entertainment space and has practiced in various sectors of the larger industry for about four decades. His filmography and stage performance credits include some of the biggest titles in the history of Nigerian stage/television/film accumulating scores of awards, commendations and nominations including Best Actor In A Leading Role (AMAA Nomination), Best Supporting Actor In A Leading Role (AMVCA Nomination), NMMA Best Radio Programme (Nomination), Best Screenplay (Esohe), Nollywood Travel Festival, Toronto, FME, Best Radio Programme, NEA Best Actor In A Television Series (Tinsel) and several others. He is a playwright, screenwriter and columnist. ‘Alhaji’, his latest work was premiered in March 2020. His other works include ‘1960’, a factional dramatization of Nigeria’s march to independence, ‘Interview With A Prostitute’, a commentary on sexual dysfunction in relations, ‘Kiki’s Dreams’, an interrogation of the impact of sex on marriages in urban Nigeria, ‘Esohe’, a full length feature film for which he won an award at the Nollywood Traveling Festival in Toronto, ‘Pasito Deinde’, ‘Kanyinsola’ and several short films, playlets, ‘Random Notions’, articles for Saturday Independent, ‘Chapters’, and ‘Musings’, a series of online sociopolitical opinion column. Bimbo Manuel was a major player in Bolanle Austen-Peters’ ‘Moremi’, ‘Wakaa The Musical’ and ‘Saro The Musical’ theatrical phenomena and was one half of the presentation pair on the immensely popular morning show on LTV, ‘BimboSolaConnect’.
Tosin Tume (Nigeria co-writer and Researcher) is an award winning playwright from Nigeria. She is also a performing artiste, theatre creator, and scholar. She holds a BA in English, MA in Theatre Arts, and PhD in Performing Arts. She has numerous theatrical productions under her belt, and to her credit, several plays and dance scripts, which have been performed locally and internationally and won several awards locally and abroad. Dr Tume is an Executive Committee member of the African Theatre Association (AfTA), African Women Playwrights Network (AWPN), and Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA). The other professional bodies which she belongs to are: the Women Playwrights International (WPI), International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ), Association of Dance Scholars and Practitioners of Nigeria (ADSPON), and Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). Dr. Tume currently teaches in the Theatre and Media Arts Department of Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria.
Leonard Matsa is a Zimbabwean story teller with 20 years’ experience working in theatre, film/TV as well as radio dramas. His works and awards span writing, production, training as well as arts administration. It is his writing though that constitute the bulk of his oeuvre where he works mostly as a scriptwriter, script/story consultant, story editor and dramaturgy. His latest work is the multi-award winning stage play Liberation.
Savanna Trust is a non-profit arts organisation that uses the arts for community development. Founded in 2006, the organisation is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. It has four main programming areas which are training and development, community engagement, mainstream theatre and festivals. Savanna Trust, over the past 14 years, has managed to enhance awareness and consciousness among 2-million Zimbabweans on human rights, governance, democracy, gender, peace and child protection issues. Additionally, the NPO has created democratic platforms in grassroots communities for citizens and local leadership to engagement and dialogue. To date, Savanna Trust has produced over 100 radio drama episodes tackling a broad range of important social topics.
Mtsinje Trust is an arts organisation that specialises in use of theatre for social change, human rights advocacy and social governance, theatre production promotion and development in Zambia. The organisation implements three distinct programs that focus on community engagement, arts education & production and festivals. The community engagement programme uses theatre and other arts-based activities for awareness raising and initiating dialogue on human rights, socio-political and economic issues that affect marginalised communities.
TCube Theatre Company is a young performing troupe from Nigeria that offers a one-stop theatrical service in the areas of music, dance, drama, poetry, make-up, and costume design and production. The group also offer cultural consultancy services to institutions of learning, private and corporate bodies. The company is dedicated to showcasing and documenting the rich cultural heritage of the diverse Nigerian cultures and is committed to using the arts for cultural awakening, social engineering, and edutainment. The company has a diverse collection of young talented actors, dancers, acrobats, singers, and musicians, whose dexterity in performance is always a delight to their growing fan base. Artistes of the TCube Theatre Company have performed at several local and national theatre festivals such as Olojo Cultural Festival Ile-Ife (2018), Nigerian Universities Theatre Festival (NUTAF) 2019, African Drums Festival (ADF) 2019, and Eko Theatre Carnival (ETC) 2020. In 2018, TCube Theatre company created The Victims, a play that addresses the salient enablers of insurgency in Northern Nigeria, and toured Nigerian universities with it. Subsequently, the play won the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Drama Award in 2019.