“Unified Women” project comes together in Bulawayo
On 3 September 2017 under bright blue skies, seven young women from the Young Vic Theatre in London arrived in Bulawayo, to a warm African welcome by Nhimbe Trust, their hosts in ‘The Unified Women Project’, which rolls out in the next two weeks with women artists of Bulawayo at the Bluez Café, housed at the Youth Contact Centre on Lobengula Street.
The young women met at a welcoming dinner in the city, with live music by ‘Afro Queens’ a women’s music group currently resident at Bluez Café, and the Khaya Traditional Dance Group.
Rob Lehmann, who is leading the group, said: “Thanks to Nhimbe Trust for making us feel so welcome, and for hosting us. We are delighted to be here and really excited to be creating Unified Women with director Sacha Milavic Davies and writer Nomashawekazi Damasane and the participating women artists of Bulawayo. We hope over the next two weeks to learn a lot about each other’s lifestyles, about women as individuals and their roles in society, and come away feeling really empowered, and create a feeling of sisterhood between the two companies. A huge thank you to everyone.”
The Young Vic Theatre and Nhimbe Trust are partners in The Unified Women Project, providing cultural exchange between young women and emerging creatives in the UK and Zimbabwe, through collaboration to explore topical themes such as migration, conflict, feminism and the ways in which the ideas relate to their lives and differing experiences.
The project will empower and increase the confidence of participants, as well as improve literacy, communication and presentation skills. It is supported by the British Council and is the first international collaboration of this scale for both the Young Vic Theatre (UK) and Nhimbe Trust.
The Young Vic is a famous theatre just a short walk from Waterloo mainline and underground station in the heart of London. Through its ‘Taking Part’ programme, the women from two London boroughs will engage and interact with women artists of Bulawayo in an exciting meeting of minds.
Local participants were selected from among the many talented young women who responded to Nhimbe’s call for female Zimbabwean scriptwriters in March, and participants in May, and auditions in June 2017.
Nhimbe Trust is an arts education organization and leader in cultural policy research, training and advocacy, and in the promotion and defence of freedom of creative expression. Its programme ‘Women in Theatre & Television’, which is supported by Africalia (Belgium), and other cultural partners, and has enjoyed huge growth and many successes in Bulawayo and beyond.
Nhimbe’s executive director Josh Nyapimbi said “The arrival of Young Vic Theatre is after a seed sowed in 2013 during a Commonwealth Fellowship in London UK, when I spent a week at Young Vic Theatre. Thank you to Chipo Chung and friends for facilitating the Commonwealth Fellowship, and the British Council for supporting the Unified Women Project cultural exchange between Nhimbe Trust and Young Vic Theatre.”
Josh thanked the British Council as a key partner in the project, and the NACZ for the facilitation of immigration formalities which enabled the smooth entry of the UK participants.