She is daring, adroit and has amazing stage presence. Whenever she is part of the cast, she gets theatre enthusiasts lining up to the ticket booth in anticipation. Her name is Dalma Chiwereva.
Unlike many who struggle to figure out which career path they should follow, for Dalma it was very easy. “I began acting at a very young age when I was still in primary school,” she says.
“It’s funny how I was cast in every production at school that is how I knew I was on the right path and never turned back.”
The jovial character who is also a recording singer says her journey began more than a decade ago when she was cast in a play staged for secondary school students.
“Styx Mhlanga’s adapted a set book into a play which we performed for Ordinary Level students who were writing it in their examinations that year. This marked the beginning of my journey in theatre.”
“It opened so many doors that saw me getting cast for other big theatre productions in Harare, resulting in me working with legends like the late Walter Muparutsa’s Global Arts Trust and Dave’s Guzha’s Rooftop Promotions.”
On a roll, the heavens kept smiling on Chiwereva as she continued to be called in for more work. “I went on to be cast for What they said What they Got. With this production, I scooped the Best Actress Award in all of Zimbabwe’s 10 Province’s in a very tight competition.”
To date Chiwereva has starred in productions like The 2Wives of John Mambo, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi, The Sun Will Rise Again, The Dead Man’s Cellphone, Coming Home, and Blood Tongue the Musical, and many more.
In 2016, Chiwereva featured in Gertrude Munhamo’s two-hander, Lamentations at 12, one of the few plays that have enjoyed a long life cycle in recent years running for a good two years at theatres world over.
She considers this production as one of the highlights of her career.
“The highlights of my career in the game are having traveled the world. I embarked on a world tour with Lamentations at 12. We performed on very big stages and festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland – where we staged 26 performances. We got some positive feedback from revered international theatre critics,” she recollects.
As one Bishop Tudor Bismark once said, “Exposure brings forth revelation and revelation brings transformation,” – this is the reality of how traveling has impacted Dalma’s career.
“Travelling has been an eye-opening experience for me. Attendance of shows in Zimbabwe is quite disappointing but in other parts of Africa and the world it is different.”
“Out there, people appreciate theatre, they attend shows and their Governments support theatre arts in full force. They pour money into the craft which makes it very easy for it to grow.”
She recalls how South Africa was able to send more than one production to the Edinburgh festival. “They brought at least five productions’ in Edinburgh while we were the only Zimbabwean production showcasing. We have so many stories to tell the world out there but because of lack of funding, it becomes very difficult. Our Government should definitely look into this and fund our industry.”
While they are many other female actors with more experience compared to Dalma, being an amazing dancer and vocalist helps her stand out despite. “My ability to dance and sing has definitely played a big role in my career. I always get cast for key roles and get to explore all of my talents, especially with musicals. Also not forgetting being multilingual is a bigger advantage and that means more jobs for me. I am forever grateful for that and appreciate those who appreciate my talents and make sure they are put in good use,” she remarked.
Chiwereva wants more and is keeping her eyes peeled for an opportunity for a solo performance. “I have performed in a two-hander. I loved it. One with many players is always fun and less challenging. As for a one-hander I would love to try. It is a very difficult I hear. But, since I managed a two-hander, let’s keep growing and see how a one-man show would be like.”
Interestingly, unlike most of the actors of her generation, Dalma never acquired any formal education in theatre.
“For the past years, I have been performing using my God-given talent with no academic qualifications but of course participating in workshops learning from different mentors.
“However, I will soon be taking up programs at the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy so I equip myself with the necessary knowledge for future productions. “As more opportunities will continue to arise, the global market will definitely require more than just your talent,” she highlighted.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.