NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel, We Need New Names, forms the springboard for Twist Theatre Development Project’s 2016 novel-script project. The annual exercise calls for six writers of diverse backgrounds – this year hailing from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Mozambique – to craft a ten-minute script inspired by themes evident in Bulawayo’s coming-of-age novel.
We Need New Names, while informing the creative process, is not the central focus of the event, explains programme mentor Kobus Moolman “The focus is on inspiration rather than adaptation,” he says. A group of five actors perform the six original scenes with scripts in hand, delivering dynamic performances of diverse scenarios spanning working-class America and the mines of Johannesburg.
Themes of conflict and displacement are pervasive in the works generated, reflecting issues faced by the novel’s protagonist in reconciling her Zimbabwean childhood with an adolescence in America. A collaborative energy is distinct in the intimate venue as the team of writers, all in attendance, watch their works being realised onstage. Moolman is visibly excited by the cohesion of the performances, opening a platform for discussion following their conclusion.
Twist succeeds in creating a space for exploring individual creative processes, rendering them visible through the unique employment of conventional theatrical devices.