Theatre Local: What inspired you to create this piece?
Gail Nyoka: I’m haunted by the idea that there’s a missing piece of British history – that of the children of West Indian immigrants to Britain in the 1950s and 60s. I want to shine a light on this unacknowledged generation, and tell stories that have been hidden, and which still have relevance in the present time. I kept some of these events locked away for most of my life.
TL: Is this the first time you are participating in Nuit Blanche? If not, What other pieces have you done that happened in the “white night”?
GN: Last year, at Nuit Blanche, I was part of Tell Your Story. I was amazed at how my story resonated with the audience and connected to people. I love the concept of participating in small audience events: it’s intimate – a direct connection with the people there.
TL: What’s up next for you?
GN: I’m working on a storytelling piece with storyteller/musician Rainos Mutamba from Zimbabwe. It’s based on the life of a famous woman from Zimbabwean history, who was a spirit medium called Nehanda. She led an uprising against British incursions into the land. The piece is a mix of storytelling, movement and music – I’m very excited about it. It’s going to be part of the Toronto Storytelling Festival in March.
Novelist, playwright and storyteller Gail Nyoka won the Chalmers Canadian Play Award: Theatre for Young Audiences with her stage play Mella Mella. Her novel for eight to thirteen-year olds, Mella and the N’Anga: An African Tale, was a finalist for the Governor General’s and several other awards. She has participated in storytelling events and was part of Tell Your Story at Canada’s Smallest Theatre for Nuit Blanche in 2011.