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Featured Artist – Chanje Kunda

ChanjeHow would you describe yourself and what you do?

I would describe myself as a spoken word and performance artist. In 2013I  my collection of poetry ‘Amsterdam’ was published by Crocus books and I showcased a work in progress sharing of My one woman show of the same name based on the book in The UK and the Netherlands. Within my spoken word theatre practice, I strip away the rhythmic delivery and instead replace it with acting, contemporary dance and performance art. I am forging new ways of delivering spoken word theatre.

Tell us a bit about your connection with Stun

I am a stun member. To my knowledge, I am the only African woman producing solo theatre in the UK at the moment. STUN has been vital in my development as an artist, and have provided me with the space to be able to develop my work as an artist. I have performed on their roadshows, and at events they have held. They have helped me by providing match funding by providing some support in kind. They have an absolutely magical space.

I am due to do a national tour in Autumn 2014 and I will be hiring the stun studio for 4 weeks to rehearse prior to my 1st UK national tour. I hope to tour it internationally after this.

What got you started?

Well after reading maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, I realised the way that poetry can be uplifting, powerful, life affirming and truly inspirational. That is what got me interested in becoming a poet.

However, it was after seeing Jonzi D’s iconic play ‘Aeroplane Man’ back in the day, that I really wanted to also produce theatre. Poets such as Lemn Sissay doing one person theatre shows also inspired me to do solo theatre performance.

What Was Your Big Break Through

The birth of my son at the age of 23 was my big break through. He saved me from a life of hendonism and really helped me to get focused on what I wanted to achieve with my life. He made me want to be a role model. Being published by crocus books and also having an international artist residency in the Netherlands, have also been pretty monumental in my career.

What is the Best Advice you have ever had?

‘Always try once more, no matter how many times you have failed before. Fight when you think you can fight no longer, or when you think you have already done your best, or until your efforts have been crowned with success’

Paramahansa Yogananda

High Point

Performing at the Calabash Literature Festival in Jamaica. All expenses paid trip to the Caribbean to perform poetry with Commonword. Full Jamaican breakfast every morning at the hotel, tree ripened mango or melon to start, followed by eggs, green calaloo, ackee and saltfish and some tropical juice. Performing on Treasure Beach… a long golden beach with the turquoise see as the backdrop. Sonia Sanchez was there and she bought a copy of my poetry pamphlet. *faints*  It was 10 days of pure heaven .

Can You Describe your Process?

My process has been evolving for the past couple of years. My process for wirting my poetry collection was keeping a journal of my exploits in Amsterdam and sharing these with my publisher. I did a lot of free writing. My publisher says I get my best work when I am not trying to ‘write poetry’ but when I let my free flowing thoughts tumble onto the page.

Since working with Juliet Ellis and Darren Pritchard of the staging of my show, I have discovered live art and dance techniques that I am now incorporating into my performances. Doing a clowning course with Angela De Castro taught me that play is a really important part in creativity and performance. I am having a ball. Working in the sstun studio on the art of clowning, acting and dance is such a liberating opportunity. I am engaged in process rather than outcome and I really think I have found my calling.

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