ONE of the country’s most celebrated theatre practitioners and award-winning actor and director, Zane Lucas, will this year give Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) audiences a rare treat when he features in a production titled Six Shades of Awkward after several years of working behind the scenes.
Lucas, who has over the years directed several shows, was last seen on the HIFA stage in 2001 when he acted in the play Twelfth Night and this year will mark his return to what he calls his first love.
Last year, Lucas directed the play Eclipse, which won him this year’s Outstanding Director award at National Arts Merit Awards.
NewsDay entertainment reporter Tinashe Sibanda (ND) recently caught up with the humorous and highly energetic Lucas (ZL) and below are excerpts of the interview.
ND: What was your first biggest role as a theatre practitioner?
ZL: It was in a play called Shear Madness where I played a crazy role of a gay hairdresser. People loved the show that it ran for two months and we also ended up taking it to Bulawayo.
ND: Give us a brief background of your acting career.
ZL: I started performing in primary school during drama festival. I went through to high school where I also got a lead role in Pinocchio. I also joined the Repteens at 14 and soon after school I went straight to England because I knew that was the best place to be if you were into theatre. I got a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in theatre through Middlesex University in the United Kingdom and on return to Zimbabwe. I started working with the country’s first multi-racial theatre company, Over the Edge. After drama school I changed my name from Zayn Koriyo to Zane Lucas simply because it was complicated and people kept asking how to spell it. In Zayn I took out the “y” and put “e” to stand for my grandfather’s name, Eric.
ND: How do you feel about your upcoming Hifa performance?
ZL: I’m terrified. It’s been too long since I actually acted and the play is an hour long with six scenes of which I’m doing three.
ND: How often have you done international productions?
ZL: I’ve been in international performances to England, Germany, New York, Belgium and Ireland, among others, and I must say audiences out there appreciated the work.
ND: What inspired you and what where your best and worst moments?
ZL: My friends inspired me. Travelling and seeing lots of places was something I loved because I knew not a lot of Zimbabweans got that opportunity. My worst moment is whenever a play doesn’t work. One play I did which was a flop was called Disco Inferno, I could feel it inside me that there was something very wrong.
ND: How do you view our local arts industry?
ZL: It still has a long way to go. I’m trying to help by training real actors as it is important to get that sort of education. I believe I have directed enough to be able to teach others. So far, because of rehearsals, I have been doing classes twice a week.
ND: What else can we expect from you this year?
ZL: I’ve got two new plays coming up. One of them is an American musical and this is for July. I have another one coming up titled Dancing at Luughasa — an Irish play whose main role has been played by award-winning actress Meryl Streep. By the end of this year I want to write a TV series titled The Jacksons, which is more like the American Madea series in the Zimbabwean context. There will also be another musical titled Oliver from Mbare, which will also be in a context that is understood by locals. It is about the day to day lives of people in Mbare. There is so much to look forward to this year.