Inside Out

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.15.38 AMLucian Msamati

Artistic Director, Tiata Fahodzi

For a mostly building based company like Tiata Fahodzi, the making of Hamba, our first outdoor show, has very much been the ultimate ‘back-to-basics’ challenge. The bricks, tricks and mortar of theatre buildings offer a degree of certainty: audience there, actors here, share a drink over there.

Outside on the street you are literally and figuratively at the mercy of the elements; yes, there are codes and understood rules of engagement but there
is no guarantee that they are espoused and respected in the same way by everyone else.

The fundamental need of the performer in this zone however is the same: to demand, engage and hold the attention of an audience. So how do I move someone to
tears as they run to catch the bus or chat or daydream? For us the answers began with questions from within: what makes you stop/ turn your head/ pay attention/ engage in the park/street/bus/motorway tailback etc.? When a car backfires or tyres screech, we react viscerally. There is something unguarded and honest in it.

In other words, the more honest and unapologetic the subject or object is the more likely we are to pay attention. The Proscenium Arch of a theatre justifies our  great and magical games of complicit make believe; doing so in your local park or high
street demands that you justify yourself! In other words the concept of certainty has to come from within.

This was our cue to buckle down and tell the story honestly, openly, enthusiastically and with integrity. Storytelling, make-believe and theatre existed long before the West End. Architecture, technology and lyricism never trump the truth: a good story, told with invention doesn’t need a huge budget to work. Now is our time to be honest and courageous and hope you are transfixed!

Catch The Legend of Hamba one more time tonight (Thursday, June 26) at 8:30 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of Global Streets

Q&A with Tiata Fahodzi Artistic Director Lucian Msamati and actors Ery Nzaramba and Anniwaa Buachie

Palessa Mokoena
Assistant Producer
Tiata Fahodzi

We’re so excited to be on tour this summer with our first outdoor performance The Legend of Hamba. I decided to ask some of the cast (Ery Nzaramba & Anniwaa Buachie) and our Artistic Director Lucian Msamati (also director of Hamba) a few questions about the process.

What really IS the main difference in performing outdoors vs indoors? Have a read below for some helpful hints and insight into the outdoor festival world, and some secrets to the Tiata Fahodzi creative process!

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 What’s been the key difference in preparing for outdoor performance and indoor performance?

Ery Nzaramba (Actor)
For me the challenge has been pushing my physicality past the norm; the over-the-top acting, and even the clown acting – telling a story without words, so precision is key. And because it’s an outdoor performance it has to be bigger than big. So it’s a physically taxing show.

Anniwaa Buachie (Actor)
Vocal energy! When performing outside you are not in a confined space and have to find ways to combat the city noises – Aeroplanes, police sirens, trains, traffic etc. So vocal energy is even more important. You need your voice to be rooted and free from tension to capture your audience’s attention.

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 What do you enjoy most about the process?

Ery:
The challenge and opportunity to learn and grow as a performer.

Anniwaa:
The not knowing. Being able just to play and experiment. Every day is different, I discover different things each time I have performed Hamba.

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What did you find the most challenging/ enjoy the least about the process?

Ery:
The sheer physicality of it – you have to learn to pace yourself and still give it your all.

Anniwaa:
Nothing!

Lucian Msamati (Artistic Director of Tiata Fahodzi and Director of The Legend of Hamba)
 The biggest blessing for me was also the biggest curse. There is a mixture of excitement and trepidation when creating a piece from scratch. You may spend a whole day working on a brilliant scene or moment only to discover when you put it all together that it is not serving the story or that it is not working!

Whether people love or hate it is out of your control; but you can control the quality and solidity of your story or approach. And that as I said is the most life-affirming, exciting, butt-clenchingly, terrifying thrill of the job.

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The Legend of Hamba is an abstract and physically demanding piece, what was the most demanding aspect of the preparation as an Actor / Director?

ERY:
Letting go of my inhibitions. Accepting to make the fool of myself or look unflattering in front of others during the devising and improvisations in rehearsals. Then the idea of performing outdoors in front of people who maybe don’t care…

Lucian:
As an actor in my own right, I know that when slip-ups happen, or when the team has an ‘off-day’ etc. there are ‘running repairs’ you can fall back on/ kick in to, to keep things ticking over. 9.85 times out of 10, unless there is a glaring problem or issue, the audiences don’t know any better. As a director however, I find it excruciating watching the team do their job. When it comes down to it, for me it is like teaching your child to ride a bike. You run alongside, you encourage, you instruct, you comfort them when they fall off, build up their confidence and then… you let them go off and compete in the Tour de France! Once the signal comes to start, it’s all, all in their hands ( or feet). All you can do is sit back and hope to goodness you’ve given them enough to be the best.

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Your first performance at Brighton was very well received, what difference does an audience make to an outdoors performance?

Ery:
The audience is the missing link, they make the show. In Brighton our main lesson was that what we’d devised “worked”. And all the fears I had about performing outdoors – the idea of performing in front of people who don’t care revolts me, and the idea of begging for their attention revolts me even more – vanished. If your show is interesting, you won’t have to beg for attention. So it’s all about the quality of the show, not its location.

Anniwaa:
When performing in a theatre, it is clear where the audience will be sitting. But with an outdoor performance, audiences can be sitting  anywhere! You could also be performing for audience members who happen to be peaking through their curtains!

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How did the unpredictable British weather affect your performance?

Ery:
Brighton was very windy…except in the Royal Pavilion Gardens where we performed, and very rainy…except the times we were performing.

Anniwaa:
I think the unpredictable British whether adds to the mystique of the piece.

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 Lastly: give me one word to describe Hamba?

Ery:
Big.

Anniwaa:
One word….mmmmm can I give to works instead? – COMPLEX

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Check out The Legend of Hamba during Greenwich Fair and Global Streets!

Greenwich Fair, June 22
Global Streets, June 23-26