ZodwaNyoni

What are the themes of your play?

The play explores disability rights, racism, education, police brutality, mental health, institutionalisation, community, childhood, loss and family.

Why did you write it and why now?

I grew up as a child carer. At that time, I and my other siblings didn’t know that we were carers for our sister who has severe learning disabilities. We showed up, were a family and did as best as we could with the tools we had.

As I got older, I began to unpack what it meant to care and be a carer. I wanted to know how other black families had survived dealing with public services from education, policing to social services; and what was the emotional, mental and physical impact on them.

Looking back on my childhood, it was an intersectional existence. I cannot speak about disability without mentioning race, class, ethnicity, culture, gender, religion and so on. It’s all shaped who I am.

The play spans generations, from the 1980s to present day. With this one black family from Chapeltown in Leeds, I wanted to examine how every member fights to be heard by the people they love, the community they live in and a society that marginalises them. When we look at where we are now, I question how many of the characters’ struggles have and haven’t changed.

Which playwrights are you influenced by and in what way?

I have long admired August Wilson and the way he explored the black American experiences. His plays are big in the emotional conflicts people have by living with and beside each other. The beautiful and messy multiplicity of being human is what fascinates me as a playwright. How we try to navigate and understand life is where lessons come from and is where choose to write from.

What do you want to achieve as a playwright?

Stories have many functions. In the pursuit of discovering them, I want to hold on to wonder and curiosity as a playwright.  If I continue to do that throughout my career, I am achieving greatly.

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