NEWS / Writer Residency Reflection – Angela Mhlanga

Writer Residency Reflection – Angela Mhlanga

Our latest writer in residence Angela Mhlanga reflects on her week long residency in the Shop Front Theatre.
My writing residency week with Theatre Absolute was creative bliss. Initially, I’d set myself, not so much an impossible set of deadlines but more ‘goals’ of what I wanted to achieve- typical of my capricornus nature. This includes writing a full length play centred around female empowerment and sharing extracts with an audience during my final day at the theatre. All this was to be achieved in five days. You can imagine my relief after receiving a call from Chris (Artistic Director) reassuring me that I didn’t have to do any of the things I proposed. A sigh of relief. The residency was an opportunity to do just that, breathe, think, mull over and gaze at passersby bypassing the Shop Front Theatre’s windows.

The week I spent at the Shop Front has encouraged so much growth in me as a writer, namely the way I approach work, what I want to explore and how to go about it. Instead of desperately trying to churn out an idea, the pressure eased through exploring and working in every corner of the space, writing on the walls, moving furniture and setting scenes, playing with the natural light pouring in through the big shop window and singing the dialogues of characters I was imagining. It was an effort to step off this ‘production line’ of quick turnarounds and deadlines but in fact just utilising the time of this residency to go back to basics and reignite the playfulness within me for storytelling. Just being in the actual space was so inspiring, every corner stocks momentos of previous productions.

Throughout the process, Chris was always there to offer support and met with me twice that week. Each time we finished a meeting, I’d feel boosted in my pursuit of finding the story and the characters to tell it. Chris asked questions that inspired me to be specific but not limiting and was so open to all the gambit of unclear ideas I’m still working through. Always giving a gentle reminder to just look out the window and allow myself to think. Our conversations gave me an invaluable lesson- that it really is okay to try and trust the process.

I’m grateful to all the Theatre Absolute team, Chris, Julia, Adele and Andy. It has been so wonderful being part of this journey. Thank you!

– by Angela Mhlanga, June 2022

Header photo and two photos in post by Andy Moore. Last four photos by Angela Mhlanga taken during her residency.