Gideon Jeph Wabvuta

Zimbabwe - Theatre & Writing

Gideon Jeph Wabvuta

Gideon Jeph Wabvuta

  • AGE:32
  • COUNTRY of residence : ZIMBABWE
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The artist

A few words about your artistic journey

Gideon Jeph Wabvuta is a writer who works in theatre and TV. His ultimate goal in life is to reframe and reclaiming the African narrative through theatre, tv and film.

How long have you been an artist ?

I stumbled into the arts in 2008 and haven’t looked back, making it 12 years as an artist.

Why did you apply for this grant ? How will the grant support you ?

The grant allows me to actually do my work without worrying about having to pay my rent and buy groceries. It’s these kinds of grants that allow a writer to just focus on creating life changing work.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency ?

To write more plays and collaborate with other creatives in creating work in a world where we are all cooped up.

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His residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?

The most important aspect for a playwright is the ability to collaborate with actors, directors and a dramaturge. The fact that I was able to involve over eight people in my project from the conceptual stage when I was still outlining the play was a huge win. I had a dramaturge whose sole purpose was to keep me honest with regards to how I portrayed my characters. They regularly challenged my decisions urging me to think harder about my writing choices. Involving the actors was the ultimate joy, they brought themselves into the process, they challenged me, they were selfish with their characters which helped because it made clearly the characters I had underwritten. The end result is a work in progress. In the theater we always say a play is not done until it is not being performed anymore. So, my play will go through more rewrites with different actors feeding into the process. I’m excited that I will be able to use this play to apply for different opportunities in the playwriting world. The big thing was definitely having the funds to be able to pay my actors and my dramaturge.

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?

This play is set in a non Covid-19 world but the experience of creating was heavily challenged by the pandemic. To begin with, I’m a writer who loves to write in public spaces, the ambience of people talking and walking about sparks my creativity. Here I was stuck in my room, writing day and night. Also, as a highly visual writer, I am used to getting into a space and workshopping my play with actors but this time I had to resort to Zoom. This wasn’t easy as we had connection issues, even the day of the reading we had actors popping in and out. I think that’s the world we live in now, it’s a virtual world and unfortunately the lower you are on the totem pole the more difficult it becomes for one to be able to access theater or any other form of art. I think the future of theater is definitely online. That can’t be helped and the fact that we are learning how to use Zoom for plays is outstanding, that’s where we are going, and we can’t change that. I think this process really made me aware of the wealth inequality, countless actors I couldn’t hire because they didn’t have Wi-Fi in their houses. This of course has to change ; we have to find ways to make things more equitable.

How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?

The process of creating the play wasn’t easy at all. The stress of having to shift from one’s creation routines threw me of. What made it worse if of course the Socio-Political issues of the world which we could escape by going to a movie, watching a sport but now I couldn’t I had to be indoors 24/7. I realized a couple of weeks into the project, when I was struggling to write, that all I had to do was create new rituals. I started taking more walks to help me loosen up, I played loud music whilst writing, and most of all I read a lot. This helped in creating conditions that allowed me to sit in my room and create. The work is not at its best but the fact that there are words on the page and there is a recording of a reading, I know I can work on the play and grow it.