Stage adaptation of NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘We Need New Names’ set for theatres across the UK
A defiant and exuberant coming-of-age story follows a young girl from the playgrounds of Zimbabwe to an America that is not the utopia she imagined, in an adaptation of the novel by NoViolet Bulawayo.
We Need New Names was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2013, a first for a Zimbabwean and a Black African woman, and has been adapted for stage by fellow Zimbabwean Mufaro Makubika (SHEBEEN, Alfred Fagon Award winner).
Full of humour and humanity, it follows the path of a girl dreaming of wonders away from her home country, only to find herself in a hinterland between where she was from and where she now is, belonging to and claimed by neither.
We Need New Names will be performed by a six-strong cast, marking a first time collaboration between East Midlands’ companies Fifth Word and New Perspectives, following on from New Perspectives’ Stage Award and Black British Theatre award winning adaptation of Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen. The cast includes Lukwesa Mwamba (as Darling), Munashe Chirisa, Anashe Danai and Kalungi Ssebandeke
Paradise. Home of 10-year-old Darling and her friends: four children on the edge of innocence. A playground overflowing with mischief and games where they imagine countries a luxurious life away from theirs in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. But when Darling moves to Michigan, the western world she encounters as a teenager is far from the American utopia of her dreams…
NoViolet Bulawayo was born Elizabeth Zandile Tshele in Zimbabwe. We Need New Names was her debut novel, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2013, as was her second novel Glory in 2022, making her the first Black African woman to appear on the Booker list twice. In addition she has been long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023 for Glory.
New Perspectives Artistic Director Angharad Jones said, “This adaptation combines New Perspectives’ history of successful commissioning adaptations including, most recently, The Fishermen, and Fifth Word’s specialism in developing new plays. Mufaro is a brilliantly talented playwright based in our home City of Nottingham, and it’s been a privilege to support him to tell this story to audiences on stages across the UK.”
Fifth Word Artistic Director Laura Ford continued, “Fifth Word are delighted to have commissioned Mufaro to develop the stage adaptation of this beautiful and powerful novel by NoViolet.
“During the development process we’ve had the privilege of working with Zimbabwean-born residents across the UK, all of whom can relate closely to this story from different generational viewpoints.
“It speaks to so many experiences, across the generations, of migration, trying to find your identity and trying to work out where you belong. I’m so excited to see this deeply moving play come to fruition and tour to theatres across the UK, reaching audiences from a wide range of backgrounds”.