News: Kema Sikazwe to make stage debut in Shine

Actor, rapper, singer and rising star Kema Sikazwe (I, Daniel Blake), also known as Kema Kay, will make his stage debut in Shine. Premiering at Live Theatre in Newcastle before transferring to the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, this world premiere is written and performed by Sikazwe and features seven new songs written specially for the show.

Shine, named after the writer whose name means ‘one who shines’ in Gambian, mixes Sikazwe’s own bittersweet story with an electrifying live soundtrack and heartfelt words. Through his words, songs and stories, this multi-disciplinary production explores growing up in a world that doesn’t always accept you while learning to gain self-belief and to always trust your head and your heart and always chase your dreams.

Kema was three years old when his family moved from Zambia to Newcastle’s West End; this coming of age story follows a family immersed in new surroundings, and what happens when that new life begins to fall apart. Shine asks what makes us who we are and whether the choices in our lives determine who we become – are we in control of our own story or is it in our DNA?

Having developed a passion for rap, singing and song writing at his local youth project in Newcastle, the Chat Trust, Kema has a longstanding connection with Newcastle and Live. In his early 20s, he landed a role in Ken Loach’s hard-hitting film I, Daniel Blake which was filmed on location in Newcastle, where it won the Palme D’or for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016 and a BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film the following year. Additionally, in 2017, he was selected as a Live Theatre Associate Artist.

Kema Sikazwe said: “I’ve always wanted to inspire people to follow their heart through storytelling and personal experience. When I was given the opportunity to get up on stage and share my story at a scratch night at Live Theatre the response was beyond what I expected. Although we all have a different journey, we also have many similarities. I’ve wanted to tell this story for years and now I have the platform it’s a dream come true.”

Graeme Thompson, Live Theatre’s Creative Producer and Director of Shine, added: “Kema is a great musical talent and when he first came to Live Theatre to develop his writing and performance skills it was clear we had a real opportunity to make a unique show. What we have created is something that really speaks to this city and the things happening in our world today. To think that this is his debut theatre show is very exciting, it’s a very ambitious piece of work. It’s a very personal story to Kema but there is so much people can relate to. Also, it has an amazing original soundtrack and music.”

In addition to the run of performances at Live Theatre, there is the opportunity to meet writer and performer Kema Sikazwe in a free post-show talk on Tuesday 7 May. There will be two free pre-show events on Saturday 4 and Saturday 11 May which showcase work by local musicians and performers.

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