Invisible stage girl

This article in its entirety was first published in the Sunday News.

TALL, slender, beautiful and very talented are some of the words one could use to describe Charmaine Mudau (CM).

Asked to describe herself, she would say: Made in Zimbabwe, proudly Venda and 100 percent a Mudau. The humility she exudes in person, and the electric charge she releases on stage all feed into this big-of-a-deal artiste in the making in Bulawayo.

Sunday Life Correspondent, Bruce Chimani, (BC) caught up with Mudau to learn more about this young lady whom prominent arts personnel, Raisedon Baya said of, “She is one of the best ladies we want to put on the map.”

Excerpts of the interview are below:

BC: Take us through your journey in the arts? Where did you start and how have you gotten to where you are?

CM: It all started when I was in Form One. Actually, I started being practically involved in the arts when I was in high school but my love for it stems way back to the days of my primary school level when I used to follow our local dramas and dance groups. And from that I just developed an intimate bond with the arts — little did I know that with time I was also going to be working closely with the people I used to envy and admire. I’m where I am today all because of the passion I have for the arts and the support I get from my family. I love the arts and trust me when I say without it I’m incomplete because this is who I am; it is my road to self-discovery. It’s been a learning process and I’m just getting started. I thank God for that.

BC: You seem to be so determined to carry this path through — and that’s exciting. So, what have been some of your greatest achievements so far?

CM: For starters; being a young lady in the arts industry is more than an achievement for me. Then practically speaking I have been part of a National Arts Merit Award winning theatre production UMbiko kaMadlenya. I have also managed to work with some of the well-known arts gurus and have managed to be part of great productions over the past couple of years. Being part of the Live Literature Project has also been an achievement for me, not only as a young actress in the festival but contributing to the education sector of the country as the project brings Literature set books to life. More so, I’m being trained not by just any director when it comes to theatre acting, I have the greatest directors one could ever wish for and these include Raisedon Baya (producer and director), Thabani Moyo (Director) and Memory Kumbota (Director, Nama winner and veteran actor).

BC: You seem to have had great experiences so far. What are some of the specific productions that you have been involved in?

CM: Some of the productions I have been involved in include The Lion and The Jewel, The Wretched Ones, TheImportance of Being Earnest, The Sun Will Rise Again (which were all a part of the Live Literature Project) and then UMbiko kaMadlenya (Nama 2015 winning theatre production).

Charmaine in The Importance of Being Ernest

BC: What do you think of your roles thus far at the last Intwasa Festivals?

CM: Okay, so the last Intwasa festival I was playing Gwendolen in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Sofia in George Mujajati’s The Sun Will Rise Again. Gwendolen is a sweet and gentle character who is just caught up in love fantasies. She desires love and she is prepared to break the social boundaries just to be in love with Jack (Earnest), whereas Sofia is a firm young girl who suffers from injustices of being born in a patriarchal society. She is forced to marry and re-live the plight faced by her grandmother and mother — however, she manages to break the curse and sorrow that the women in the play face. She becomes the sun (hope) that all the oppressed women were hoping for. All I can say is Gwen (Miss FairFax) and Sofia may differ from Charmaine in many ways but the truth is when I look at some of their character traits I see myself in them. I can vividly see Charmaine in both Gwen and Sofia — I can relate to them in terms of being strong, passionate and above all being true to myself.

BC: Where should we expect you to be in the next few years?

CM: In the next few years I just pray that God opens a lot of avenues for me. My wish is to be engaged in the uplifting of girls and young ladies in the arts at the same time reminding them of their rightful roles and responsibilities in the society that we live in. So the future is yet to come but it doesn’t begin tomorrow, it begins now. I’m still growing.

BC: The point you related on it being an achievement to be a young lady in the arts is poignant. What do you think of the role of women in the local arts? I know from previous conversations with you that you enjoy engaging in gender issues.

CM: Yes! I love engaging in gender issues, especially gender in the arts industry because it is something that has not been properly addressed and as a young female artiste I’m affected by it at some level but that’s another story for some other day.

The role of women in the local arts is to bring a new fresh approach to the industry but not forgetting the setting of the world we live in. Given a chance, women can make wonders for there are many talented young girls out there but the portrayal of women in the industry limits their talent in so many ways. My prayer is that we do away with the stereotype of portraying women in the industry as loose and immoral, instead support the young ladies so as to widen the arts industry for without them the arts will be somewhat imbalanced. When a woman with talent conceives her true self a miracle occurs and life around her begins again.

Then also, my advice to the young girls is to give your audience something great to talk about not a lot of reasons to question your (women) existence in the arts industry. Be what you want your daughter to become or who you want your son to marry.

BC: Great words there, Charmaine. So, as we conclude, tell us a bit of your personal life?

CM: Miss Charmaine John Lufuno Mudau ndimuVenda, the daughter of John Mudau and Nothando Nonkululeko Khumalo. I’m a 22-year-old young lady who, like I have said, is very passionate about the arts and everything that I personally choose to treasure. I’m a third-year student at Lupane State University studying for a Bachelors Honours Degree in Language and Communication Studies. I’m currently attached at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.

Besides school, work and rehearsals I love hanging out with people close to my heart and making the most of what God has given to us (the gift of life). I’m very outgoing if you get to know me better and one thing people can’t change is I am my father’s daughter. He is my inspiration, together with my siblings and those dear to me. I also have another hidden inspiration though it’s kind of in the future — that is — my future husband and they who shall call me “mum” for they will say “yes, she did it for us” and truly I’m doing it for them but above all I’m doing it for all the young ladies who share the same passion with me.

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