Zimbabwe to New Zealand

Resident blogger Jonty spoke to award-winning playwright, Stanley Makuwe about Finding Temeraire.

How did the show originate?

Two years ago I visited Zimbabwe. I had a chance to visit the small mining town where I was born. I found out the place was no longer how it was when I was growing up. More of a ghost town now with all the infrastructure, the gold, the people, the liveliness gone. I thought of creating a story that spoke about the death of this once-flourishing town that has now been reduced to ruins. That’s when I came up with a male character who was once a big boss and a ladies man of town who has lost everything and has been reduced to a destitute, and this woman that returns to rub salt into a very painful wound. The character, Temeraire, represents everything that’s wrong with this town. Though it’s set in Zimbabwe, the story has strong universal themes attached to it, including questions on abortion, and women’s voice and role in any society.

How important it is to you that the show that it is set in Zimbabwe?

I get to share an African story with fellow Africans and also bringing our stories to be part of the New Zealand society.

Putting ourselves in the history books of Auckland. We are now part of the culture here, African-New Zealanders.

What has been the most difficult part of the production?

Resources. It’s always hard to have all the right tools in place. But with the support of the community, of generous New Zealanders, of The Basement, we have managed to create something the audience can look forward to.

How did you assemble the cast?

I have known Tawanda for many years. He is the first black African to train at the prestigious Toi Whaakari drama school. He has earned major film roles alongside big names such as Scarlett Johannsson, Robert Pattinson and Jason Statham. Tawanda is one of the most brilliant, level headed actors I have known. You will never know what he has done until you develop a close relationship with him. Sandra was in a play reading workshop a few years ago. I loved the way she captured the character but I never got a chance to talk to her or get her contact details. I had to do some research and Facebook search to find her. When I finally got hold of her we auditioned her and a few other actresses. She stood out perfectly for us, not just for her acting abilities, but also for her personality as well and her desire, passion and drive.

What reaction are you hoping the show gets?

It’s going to be a positive response, another big step for us towards having a voice in the arts. We are hoping for an appreciative crowd that will get a good feel of what we can do, not just as Africans, but as artists.

Finding Temeraire is on at Basement from 17-21 Oct