Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On my week in Zambia

I was going to give a day by day, blow by blow, boring by boring account of my week in Zambia, but that’ll be umm, well, mind numbing quite frankly. So some highlights:

Sunday arrived in Mfuwe, picked up at airport by Musa and a posse of actors. Fab to see everyone. Got home, shouted at the baboons (the tamarind tree outside my house is fruiting so they’ve taken up permanent residence. Bastards.) Danced with my crazy cat Clever Bollocks.

Next morning, surprise – the baboons woke me up and pissed me off. Usually I shout some more at them but R was asleep upstairs and didn’t want to wake her. Tried to switch on my computer quietly without waking her up. When I told her this her response was “You’re such a wanker! You really think that your computer is going to be louder than 40 bongwes (baboons) jumping on the roof?” The lady has a point.

Drove to Malama Village (3 hours drive out in the sticks) - cruiser loaded with shmeggy mattresses and grotty pots and pans, buckets for washing, grub for the week (dried fish, beans, mealie meal, squawky chickens), 9 actors. Met with the chief did all the bla protocol, got given a place to stay.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday stayed in the village, headed out every day doing research, evening report backs. Late nights. Then writing play, rehearsing, bla bla bla. Snapshots. Driving through the long grass, passing through cold sweet smelling pockets of air. Salty water from the village well. Tying the basket of sleepy chickens up in the rafters so they don’t get eaten. Wood smoke tea in the morning, nothing like it. Day one of research we decide to take a packed lunch. We have no bags to put the soggy chips in so Kelvin gets the plastic from around the loo rolls, burns the edges on the fire so they stick together and make a bag, holds it up looking most proud of himself and says “initiative is never taught”. Sitting around one quiet evening and the actors get on to their favourite subject. George Bush and Osama Bin Laden. “Did you know that Osama Bin Laden and George Bush have built houses on a planet somewhere so that when there’s a big war here they can escape to the planet. I don’t know if its Saturn or Mars or Jupiter or Geneva”

Had grand plans of writing every day. Computer battery ran out on day one, so much for that! Only managed to write one sentence - “I am sitting outside on a mat hoping the battery of my computer lasts. The actors are just starting to wake up. Sticking their heads out the door, croaking a greeting, bursting into snippets of song. Every now and then peering over my shoulder to see what I’m writing. Telling everyone who will listen about their toilet plans.” Ah yes, the public toilet plans. How quickly things revert to the toilet. As soon as we arrived someone says “Kwa azimai ni uku, kwa azibambo ni uku” – the ladies is this side (of the tree) the gents is this side. Any time anyone goes to the loo we all have to know about it. From the simple “I’m going to the toilet” to the slightly more obscure “I’m going to read the newspaper” to the befuddling “I’m going to departures” – local and international depending on what you plan to do (because its important that we know?) Oh I’d forgotten all these funny quirks. Back in the old routine. I did this for three years and loved every minute of it. The camaraderie, the shared jokes. The shared shoes. It goes like this: If I’m the first one to wake up I may get to wear my own flip flops. Otherwise I just take the closest pair. The great flip flop swap. Simon takes Sarah’s who takes Musa’s who takes Bernard’s who takes mine who takes Monje’s. The system seems to work so long as you’re not overly attached to your shoes and no-ones got verucas.

Saturday. Day of performance. Big crowd. Great audience. Think we got the balance right between the community’s point of view and ZAWA, the wildlife enforcement people. Hard to do. Interaction with the audience. Solutions coming from them. Love this job, just love it.

1 comment:

tam said...

fantastic. but what of the play? what issues came up? what solutions? how many more performances? write more more mmore, mo!