London-Based Theater Troupe Debuts “ZHE”, A Play about Gender, Culture, and Sexuality in Africa
Originally written for GenderAcrossBorders.com.
“There are some journeys that make us who we were always meant to be…”
ZHE is a new play created by Chuck Mike, Antonia Kemi Coker and Tonderai Munyevu. This humorous, thought-provoking and haunting drama explores the lives of two British Africans living at the crossroads of culture, nationality, gender and sexuality. Journeying from childhood to adulthood and across continents, the play examines the joys and pains of coming to terms with the complexity of our many identities.
ZHE is being produced by Collective Artistes (CA), a London-based ensemble theatre company committed to producing socially relevant professional and community theatre that tells the stories of the African Diaspora.
Inspired by his mentor Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Artistic Director Chuck Mike founded Collective Artistes in Nigeria in 1988 with the aim of producing stunning and vibrant theatre that has a tangible impact in the wider community. They team productions with Theatre for Social Change initiatives — drama-based projects that engage young people and community members in identifying and addressing areas of social concern; stories that depict LGBT Africa is their latest undertaking.
ZHE debuted on Thursday February 23rd in London as part of its preview tour during the UK’s LGBT history month, but plans to coordinate a bigger tour later in the year. The play has already been well-received. Colin Presocd, Chair of the Institute of Race Relations describes the production as “Timely, courageous, imaginative, lovely narrative story-telling… that will ‘explode’ onto stages in the US — stages anywhere.” You can download the press kit here.
I am SO excited about this play as it brings together all my favorite things — Art, activism, and Africa, Yes! I was honored, too, that the troupe reached out to me attend the premier in London but alas — I’m all the way in Boston, currently. But what an opportunity! I encourage everyone who can to see ZHE, and share your thoughts in the comments. The fact that this production is being backed by one of Nigeria’s most respected and outspoken leaders, Wole Soyinka, is indeed very exciting. Perhaps Nigerian activists can take comfort knowing that they have such strong support from noteable Diaspora. I know I do.
Check out the dates of the preview tour below — including one next weekend for which I may fundraise to attend! — and visit www.collectiveartistes.co.uk to find out more about CA’s inspiring work bridging art, activism, and Africa.
PREVIEW TOUR TO LONDON, IPSWICH AND LEEDS:
23rd/24th February 7.30pm (Friday Matinee, 1.30pm)
CanadaWater Culture Space,London
020 8692 4446, www.thealbany.org.uk
25th February, 7.45pm
New Wolsey Theatre,Ipswich
01473 295 900, www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
1st & 2nd March 7.30pm
Tara Arts, Wandsworth,London
020 8333 4457, www.tara-arts.com
6th March 7.30pm
0113 343 8730, www.stage.leeds.ac.uk