Danai Gurira returns to the stage as a man

28 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views
Danai Gurira returns to the stage as a man Danai Gurira

Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter 

DESPITE carving out a lucrative career in Hollywood, Zimbabwe actress, Danai Gurira, has returned to her roots, featuring in a reenactment of Shakespeare’s Richard III, in which she bends gender roles by playing the titular character, who is usually portrayed by a man. 

Gurira has become one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood, after featuring in the comic-based blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, including the popular Black Panther franchise. In an interview with Salon.com, Gurira said that preparing for the role had been physically taxing.

“And so yeah, it was very much a physical exercise. All of my teachers are great, but one teacher I have who is also still at NYU called Scott Miller, he’s a vocal teacher, but he really goes above and beyond the ideas of just a vocal teacher in terms of how he connects you with what you’re doing and saying physically, and how the voice connects with the language or doesn’t . . . And that required a lot of rigour. I’d get there at 5 for an eight o’clock show. I put post-It’s all over my house because everywhere I went, I had to absorb what [Richard] meant at all time,” she said. 

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Despite her star rising higher in Hollywood, Gurira said she was happy to be back on stage. 

“It was incredible. I mean, I really had missed the stage and I had missed Shakespeare. The last thing I had done had been Shakespeare, and there’s nothing quite like stepping into his words, but there is a ton of work that goes into it. So you’re right, there is a muscularity that has to go into it — getting back into shape vocally, getting into the verse and into how you live, how you find your character through the verse, how you find the rhythm through the verse and all of that . . . And that journey, it’s an intense one,” she said. 

Gurira said she was not intimidated by the prospect of playing a British man, despite being a black African woman herself. 

“You know, I have a touch of a purist in me about Shakespeare. I want it to be alive in its form. I don’t want people to start messing with the syntax or changing up the verse in some different ways. I actually think it loses its understandability when you do that. But the thing that I think makes it even more understandable is when it’s allowed to be contemporary through you. Because you have fearlessly said, “This is going through me. It’s not going through, you know, some expected being, like a white British man. It’s going through me. What’s brilliant about Shakespeare is, I can take it in and it can be mine. In this Black female body, I can own it. And that will resonate,” she said. 

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