By Grant Moyo
Acting requires faith, you just have to believe that you are the actual person you are playing and be contentious about your situation as the narrative unfolds. Whether it’s in film or theatre, it is important to do script analysis and be retentive in order to draw the audience into the story, says actress Nosisa Mathonsi.
The European Union Film Festival alumnus, who has featured in local film productions which have aired on national broadcasting station ZBC TV, is on the threshold of obtaining an Arts degree.
Mathonsi says learning has not only helped her understand the technical part of film and theatre production, but also taught her professionalism and respecting time. Further evolving and fuelling her mania for performing arts, the actress has been gearing up for opportunities to pitch and submit for big auditions in to land acting roles on ground-breaking platforms.
Mathonsi was born in Gweru, and attended Lower Gwelo Adventist School before completing her Advanced Level at Maboleni High School. She is a final year Film and Theatre Arts Studies student at the Midlands State University in Gweru.
She landed acting roles on Not Yet Time and Double Edged, which are locally produced short films that have been broadcast on ZBC TV (DStv Channel 280). The actress has also entered theatre competitions under the Geraldine Roche Drama, an innovative programme that uses drama, street theatre and film production to promote civic and social messages in schools and communities.
“Growing up, I used to enjoy watching television personalities in movies and talk shows. In my personal space, I stood in front of the mirror and spent hours reciting monologues and dialogues as well as imitating actions of particular characters from my favourite films and television shows at the time,” Mathonsi said.
“As a teenager, I couldn’t help, but admire how every occurrence in soap operas and movies drove my emotions to an extent that I identified with an incident or behaviour of particular characters. In some instances, I saw actions of people I knew being portrayed within scenes and episodes, be it certain family members, neighbours or random individuals I would have had encounters with in the streets. So in my capacity I adorned my concealed acts in front of the mirror, telling myself that one day I will be on TV.”
Mathonsi added: “I started acting while in my second year in university in a 2018 film production called Do Or Die. Last year my colleagues and I entered a theatre competition. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to the finals. I was disappointed, but at the same time happy because the experience was eye opening. I identified where I lacked and picked up the pieces. This fighting spirit has shaped me into a better performer.”
She said it was essential to get an education in film and theatre production as it gives insight to aspects of screenwriting, directing, acting and post-production. The actress acknowledges that knowing the roles and contributions of the cast and crew on a film or television set makes shooting gratifying.
Mathonsi also noted that it was important for actresses and actors to read scripts making sure that they know their lines and not delay productions.
When the whole production process is approached in a professional manner on stage or set, possibilities to bring the best out of actresses and actors are accrued.
“Both film and theatre require a collaborative effort, that’s how powerful content is created and great film makers as well as expressive performers are born. Respect is necessary in pre-production and on set during a shoot or on stage during a run of a production. It draws the line between success and failure,” she said.
“Choosing the long, but worthy route of getting a professional qualification in film and theatre was a wise move. This decision has equipped me with so much knowledge and skill that will assist in building a lucrative career.
“I have come to realise the relevance of acting, voice and movement techniques in my professional career.
“Movement techniques which emphasise on how actresses and actors move on the stage and what this communicate to the audience, consist of four categories namely body, effort, shape and space.
“Using the Stanislavski method or system, which is a set of techniques used by actresses and actors to portray emotions on stage by putting themselves in the place of the character, has helped me to create believable emotions and actions in the characters I portray. I have been able to build credible characters by following these seven steps which include asking, ‘Who Am I?, Where Am I?, When Is It?, What Do I Want?, Why Do I Want It?, How Will I Get It? and What Do I Need To Overcome?’. This and more has taught me that acting takes a lot of commitment and hard work, nevertheless, it is easier for actresses and actors to grasp the concepts if they have gone through formal training.”
Mathonsi was part of the 2019 edition of the European Union Film Festival master classes in the art department — incorporating frames, props and storytelling — which were facilitated by seasoned Ugandan art director and props master Isaac Simba, affectionately known as AK Simba.
Under the guidance of AK Simba, Mathonsi learned about the role played by the art department in creating extra settings to fill in the world with substantial elements. The actress was also enlightened about the impact of team work, communication, time management and linkages between production departments in every creation stage. She became knowledgeable on how to be a successful film maker in terms of script writing, acting and working behind the scenes.
“I learned to be professional about my craft, the facilitator was willing to help and give advice throughout the sessions. My colleagues and I were taught about the importance of the art department in film production,” she said.
“I had a technical experience of how to conduct myself as an actress on production set. We were well educated about the importance of being open to learn from each other because no one knows it all.
“In that aspect it makes the production very successful because everyone respects their work, time, and each other. I partook with a mindset of wanting to learn, know and grow in my craft, which is where my love for behind the scenes work came from.”
For performing artists to put in long hours in perfecting their dramatic composition, it takes a combination of dedication, discipline, undaunted vision, self-esteem, as well as respect for others, be it the cast or crew.
Obliged to serve her purpose, Mathonsi is of the notion that for local actresses and actors to be picked for international roles, continuous learning of acting techniques and professional developmentthrough attending acting classes is necessary.
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