Drama transports May Festival audience to Bulawayo

Drama transports May Festival audience to Bulawayo

You could have heard a pin drop at last Friday's showing of "A Mother's Journey" a play set in rural Bulawayo during the University's May Festival.

Student actors Vicky Parker and Tehillah Sihlabela put in superb performances playing characters Evie and Joe, a young couple expecting their first child.  The audience were quickly captivated by the story when Evie, heavily pregnant, started to sing a haunting lullaby to her unborn child. Evie becomes worried about the baby and as they try to make their way to the nearest medical centre, (14 miles away) they are beset by a series of transport problems and in the end have to make their way on a borrowed bicycle. 

The play was written and directed by Dr Shane Strachan, a creative writer who has recently completed his doctoral degree at the University’s College of Arts and Social Sciences. Shane spoke to the audience after the Play and explained how he had based the story on real life events.

Immpact’s Dr Julia Hussein approached Shane last year to write and direct the piece to highlight the many barriers mothers in low-income countries face when trying to reach health facilities because of a lack of transportation. Transport and referral barriers faced by pregnant women is a special area of research interest for Immpact.

Bulawayo has been twinned with Aberdeen since 1986.   Immpact was awarded a small grant in April 2015 from Aberdeen City Council through its Twinned Cities Programme to support the creation of the Play and a visit to Aberdeen by two senior maternal health professionals from Bulawayo.  

Consultant Obstetrician Dr Davidzoyashe Makosa and the Matron of Mpilo Maternity Hospital, Mrs Sikhangezile Moyo timed their visit to Aberdeen to coincide with the Play’s first showing at the May Festival.   The visitors toured various clinical facilities in NHS Grampian and met with NHS and University staff. The Aberdeen to Bulawayo leg of the exchange visit is planned to take place later in the year.

Immpact’s Julia Hussein said ‘we are hoping to build on this visit and establish new contacts and partnerships in Zimbabwe and identify future funding opportunities for collaborative projects which bring together the health sector, performing and photographic arts’.

Both Julia and Shane took part in the Health Show on SHMU community radio to talk about the play and the reasons behind it.  They were interviewed by NHS Grampian’s Jillian Evans.  Hear the full interview here. http://www.shmu.org.uk/radio/shows/health_show.mp3