The pandemic has necessitated the need for performing arts practitioners to adapt and find new spaces in which to showcase their creativity as well as continue to derive a living without contravening COVID-19 regulations. For Vulindlela Theatre Company, which in the past produced stage plays, radio dramas have been identified as an alternative performance space to rejuvenate the group’s visibility after a long absence and re-connect with audiences.
This medium has not been fully explored in the past, and with several national and community radio stations in the country, offers the opportunity to reach both old and new audience. Radio has advantages over other forms of media in that it is affordable, accessible to the majority of the population and has wide appeal across age and language demographics. Vulindlela Theatre Company will undergo training in radio drama production and record thirteen radio drama episodes using predominantly the local Nambya language. The radio drama series will then be aired on a national radio station.
Michael Kanyika is the artistic director of Vulindlela Theatre Company. He is a professional thespian with a career dating back to 1992. His talent was spotted by a scout while performing in an Easter play , and since then he has done a lot of work as an actor, a choreographer as well as a drummer and marimba musician. He has performed in numerous stage, TV and radio drama productions. Michael has directed several productions from commissioned dramas to professional full productions. His works have been shown all over Zimbabwe including festivals such as Intwasa Arts Festival, Shangano Arts Festival, Hurungwe Arts Festival, Geraldine Winter Arts Festival. He was a recipient of the best director awards (2020 and 2021) at the Geraldine Roche drama competitions. He has also received the award for best choreographer at the Jikinya Traditional Dance for Primary Schools competition in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Ignatious Phiri started his career in theatre in 2000 when he joined Masibambaneni Theatre Production. He has since appeared in several community theatre plays addressing Malaria, HIV and AIDS and workplace safety. Ignatious also had a stint with Sonqoba Drama Club before joining Vulindlela Theatre Company as an actor.
Racheal Ngwenya is Vulindlela Theatre Company’s new kid on the block. Her talent in acting was spotted at Catholic drama competitions. She is currently undergoing an apprenticeship in theatre.
Bornface Siduli joining a local drama group in Hwange called Front Line in 2001. He worked as an actor, focusing on raising awareness around TB, Malaria, HIV among other pertinent issues. In 2004 he briefly joined Masibambaneni Theatre after Frontline disbanded, before being recruited to Vulindlela Theatre Company as an actor.
George Tafadzwa Chivhunga joined Vulindlela Theatre Company eight years ago and has appeared in over a dozen of Vulindlela’s theatre plays.
Marvellous Shantani Neshavi started theatre arts in 2006 at Thekwane High school, with a drama group called IQEPA. The school group specialized in acting, dancing, singing and poetry and performed in several schools around Zimbabwe. In 2008 she joined the group AMAKFC in Hwange, was one of the best dance groups in the area. Her interest in acting led to her joining Vulindlela Theatre Company in 2012, where she has featured in several productions.
Lawrence Nyendwa joined Vulindlela’s juniors at an early age and has grown to be one of the consistent actors since graduating to the senior group. Lawrence has featured in several plays by Vulindlela Theatre Company and has played several lead roles. Some of the plays include the national touring “Family Trio” and “Waiting for Justice”.
Simephina Nyoni is one of the most experienced members of Vulindlela Theatre Company. She is an actress, writer and director. She started her professional career with Ezemvelo Theatre Productions in 1993 as an actress and later on received training in Community Theatre from the Zimbabwe Association of Community Theatre’s Mobile Theatre School. Simephina has been working on an Isindebele novel titled “Amasiko leziga zawo” which is due for publishing. Her screenplay titled “Pho Kuthiwani” was filmed and produced by Rooftop Promotions. She has featured in several national touring plays among them “Bwanali’s Package” written and directed by Nelson Mapako. In 2005 she received a grant from the Culture Fund Trust of Zimbabwe in conjunction with Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) for her poetry workshops with school children on child abuse and HIV and AIDS. Simephina was awarded with the Best Actress at the National Geraldine Roche drama Competitions 2021.
Mildred Nkomo is a professional actress, director and theatre coach. She has over 25 years of experience in the creative sector. She joined a local theatre group Ezemvelo Theatre Productions in 1994 as a trainee actress and soon graduated into the main group where she started playing lead roles in major productions. Mildred received training in directing and arts management with the Zimbabwe Association of Community Theatre. She has featured in stage and radio drama productions, as well as been involved in music projects as a jazz vocalist and dancer. Mildred is fluent in several local languages, and has been recognised for her talent and work by various awards. Mildred was invited to join the National Management Committee of the Zimbabwe Association of Community Theatre as National Vice Chairperson, and her long-term goal is to establish a mentoring project for emerging female theatre artists.
Michael Mvula started his artistic Journey in 2007 while still at Hwange High School. He was working with a community based group Loxion Scorpions where they performed at wedding parties and other ceremonies. In 2012 he joined Vulindlela Theatre Company as a trainee actor, and has since been recruited into the senior group. Apart from acting, Michael is sharpening his skills as a professional choreographer.