Zim Hollywood actress calls for collaborative effort

HIGH-FLYING Zimbabwean playwright-cum-actor, Danai Gurira has called for a collaborative effort to take the African narratives across the globe.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

Danai Gurira

The United States-based actress, who is also co-founder and executive artistic director of a local arts group, Almasi Collaborative Arts, said the world was more than ready for narratives from an African perspective.

“What I learnt this past year after the astounding response to Marvel’s Black Panther, as a cast member, was that the world is more than ready for narratives from an African perspective,” she said.

“Every time I am back in Zimbabwe, as I am currently, I meet artists ready to take off and tell powerful untold stories in unexpected ways.

“Join me in making sure these stories are heard and experienced by the world.”

Gurira’s stock in the film industry continues to rise, having featured in an epic film, Black Panther, alongside a cast of top-rated international actors Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Bassett.

Meanwhile, the popular Hollywood actress said for Almasi, 2018 will be remembered as a year when they expanded their capacity in increasing the African artist’s opportunity to excel, having conducted more staged reading, workshops and international exchanges than in any other previous year.

“The year (2018) kicked off with playwright and educator Alice Tuan from Los Angeles travelling to Zimbabwe to lead our annual Almasi African Playwrights Conference, and with our own Almasi artist Kudzai Sevenzo travelling to Washington DC to assist director Adam Immerwahr with my play Familiar at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. We were able to continue that momentum throughout the year,” she said.

“We accomplished a great deal while staying true to our mission to create access, education, and opportunity for the African artist.”

Patrick Miller, one of our Zimbabwean playwrights from the conference in January was, as per our exchange programme, invited to Ojai Playwrights Conference in Ojai, California, where he further developed his work amidst some of the most renowned theatre makers.”

Gurira said locally, they were able to conduct training programmes for writers and directors alike.

“Our mainstay programming, staged readings, continued throughout the year, with a variety of pieces explored from Julia Cho’s The Language Archive to Hwindi, a Zimbabwean TV project in development.

She said they were pleased to give the Walter Mparutsa Fellowship for 2018 to Sevenzo in support of her BA programme at Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theater in Blue Lake, Northern California.

“While we continue to support our Walter Mparutsa Fellow, Gideon Wabvuta, who is currently in the last year of his MFA in Dramatic Writing at The University of Southern California, we look ahead to 2019 with plans to expand our programming further, and to present even more African artists with life-changing opportunities,” she said.

She said this week they kick off their third annual Almasi African Playwrights Conference, with Alice Tuan returning.

“We look forward to the discovery of even more new African voices as we present them with the space and support to hone their skills as storytellers,” she said.

Almasi Collaborative Arts brings together Zimbabwean and American artistes, with a vision to professionalise the dramatic arts industry in the country through education, facilitation and collaboration with professional American Dramatic Artists and Artistic Institutions.