These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.
Today we have writer, director and producer Jenny Kandenge. She is the author of Trauma, and co-creator of web series, Untitled. Kandenge also Directed Two Sides, a short film produced in South Africa and The Game (working title) which is currently in preproduction. Being a theatremaker too, Kandenge has written and directed numerous theatre productions including Ominous (2016), for which she won Best Original Script: Theatre at the Namibia Theatre and Film Awards, Daddy’s Girls (2018) Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls (2019). Kandenge also holds various nominations for her theatre work.
When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?
I was terrified because I had a feeling that life was about to change forever. I keep saying that there’s no way to go back to the way we lived before Covid-19. Before they announced the lockdown, I made plans to travel home. I had a feeling that a lockdown was coming, I figured it would be better at home with family during the lockdown than by myself.
What really bums you out about the current state of events?
How artists have lost out on a lot of gigs, thankfully most of them have been postponed instead of cancelled but it breaks my heart when I think about how much this has affected our industry. We were really never prepared for this.
Productivity wise, what have you been up to?
I’ve been writing like crazy, literally been writing every day even if it’s just one sentence. I’ve been reading a lot as well, I’ve just been trying to work on ways to improve and develop my writing skills. I’ve also been taking part in free masterclasses and online classes.
It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?
I’ve been exercising, doing mostly jumping rope and yoga. Doing meditations and listing at least four things that I am thankful for, a little gratitude goes a long way. I have also been dancing as much as I can with the kids. Reading helps and keeping in touch with my close friends. But I am also learning that it’s okay not to be okay but just not to get stuck in a dark place but to feel the emotions and let them pass through.
With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?
Participate in an online art class, many artists are taking their skills online, since many conferences and workshops are being put on hold and in-person events have been cancelled, so classes are moving online. If you are financially able, consider donating the money that you would have spent on tickets to live performances or exhibition tickets to artist organizations, arts nonprofits, and artists instead. If you can’t donate then share the work of your favourite artists, it can boost their social following and, in turn, hopefully, sales. All people during this difficult time could use a little extra emotional support. Send the artist in your life a text, pick up the phone, or send a card or care package. Now more than ever we need to increase our social bonds and let people know that we appreciate the work they do. Being an artist in a normal economy can be a financial struggle, being an artist can be downright stressful.
During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider! readers?
Check out FreeBooks.net it is my favourite site to get free E-books, reading might not be for everyone but it helps. Also reality shows, Love is Blind and Too Hot To Handle which are both on Netflix are pretty good. Check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube which is totally free. For theatremakers, there is GhostLight, a site that provides a virtual space for online theatre courses, education, and mentoring. There are free online classes for theatre ranging from directing to acting that you can sign up for if you want to develop your skills. Also, for the filmmakers, the MultiChoice Talent Factory is offering a free masterclass Produce like a Pro, join in.
Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?
Being around creatives. I am excited to see what artists have been up to because the world will need art after this.
Lastly, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Penguin: Got any Tequila?