‘Women lag behind in film-making’

SNEAK PEEK :Precious Chida

Playwright and filmmaker Lisa Gutu, who ventured into professional acting in 2015, believes women are still lagging behind in the film industry as they are not taking up major posts like film directing and editing. The 27-year-old theatre actress’ play, Away from Home, recently premiered at Jason Mpepho Little Theatre. NewsDay Life & Style (ND) reporter, Precious Chida caught up with Gutu (LG) who opened up about her career in the theatre industry. Below are excerpts from the interview.

ND: Tell us about yourself

LG: My name is Lisa Gutu. I studied theatre arts at the University of Zimbabwe and I started professional acting in 2015. I have worked with veterans such as Daves Guzha, Peter Churu, Eunice Tava and Daniel Maposa among others. So far, I have done more than 10 theatre plays, including one with acclaimed Ugandan playwright and director, Adong Judith. I made my debut on screen last year with a popular sitcom on YouTube and then a series and game show on ZBC titled Diaspora and Buddyz gameshow respectively.

ND: You have acted in the famous YouTube comedy show Special Class. How do you describe your role in the drama?

LG: In Special Class (First Season) I played the character Petronella, who is an entrepreneur. She is a bully and rough. She sells sweets and she is always about her business and that’s all she knows. She is not very bright in school, but she knows her money very well.

ND: When did you start writing and what are some of your earlier productions?

LG: It was last year that I had my debut as a writer with the play titled Away from home and also as a director with the play titled Toxic at the Jasen Mpepo Little Theatre in collaboration with Zimbabwe Theatre Academy. At the moment, I am focusing on writing and directing and also taking part at the Almasi playwright conference as assistant director where I am learning a lot.

ND: You studied theatre, is there any role theatre can play in shaping the society?

LG: Mostly in theatre it is all about storytelling and some of the stories that are being told all have to do with what’s happening in our societies, be it politics, social or religious and so many issues are brought to the fore. What I love about theatre also is that in most places I have been to, there are discussions after a play is done and you can get to appreciate how people are really struggling out there. So definitely, theatre plays a role in shaping our society as it acts as a mirror and poses questions on what is happening in society and it is up to the audience to answer some of these questions portraying a picture of what we want our society to become.

ND: There have always been issues around male dominance in theatre, what has been your experience?

LG: Well, of course, male dominance is there but speaking for myself, I always stand my ground because I know what I stand for and what I want to achieve. And I have been fortunate enough to work with some males that are easy to work with. But there are some that have the wrong intentions, but because I know my worth and what I want out of my career, so nobody takes advantage of me.

ND: Generally, are women in the industry at par with their male colleagues?

LG: I feel that women are still lagging behind, but there is a lot of space for women to fill in, like directing, writing and even being behind the camera and editing. It’s up to the women to grab the opportunities because with the level of advocacy for women to take up more roles around the world, it would be unfair to say we are still being sidelined.

ND: What’s your view of the state of the theatre industry in Zimbabwe?

LG: I feel theatre in Zimbabwe is not exactly where I would have wanted it to be, considering that we have just a few theatres that we can count. While it is good that we do have some, they are few compared to other countries. We still have a huge gap in terms of theatre because in other countries theatre is very big in terms of the audience, but a lot of people in Zimbabwe have not experienced theatre. So, as Zimbabweans we need to vigorously advertise this sector on all platforms.

ND: What lessons have you learnt through acting outside Zimbabwe?

LG: The lesson I got was professionalism, which is one of the things that they stress on in terms of just respecting the craft. They don’t take rehearsal time for granted. They invest in everything; the rehearsal, the costumes, the props, lighting and making sure that the production is of high quality. So they utilise every aspect to its full potential and in future I am going to apply that in my productions.

ND: Any plays that you are writing that we should expect this year?

LG: I have a line-up of short stories that I am writing for the screen and a theatre play. I am also going to be writing two episodes for Special Class Season 2.

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