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Alumni portrait: Zandile Darko - "Writing carries me through time"

2020-06-22 The artist studied physical theatre in London and cultural studies at Leuphana College. Today Zandile Darko is successful in the independent theatre scene and is looking forward to being back on stage soon after the lockdown.

"Whiteness surrounding her imagination. Shivering through her head and through her body reaching the centre of gravity too deep to touch. While she was observing the flames dancing she saw it all and grief tried to pull her down."
These lines are from the first publication of Zandile Darko. "Writings" appeared at the end of last year. When the artist is not writing, she is on stage, giving workshops and creating new performances. Zandile Darko is an actress, performer and theatremaker. As for all other stage artists, in times of the Corona pandemic, theatre life also stands still for her. "Now writing carries me through this time", says the Hamburg native. As a solo self-employed artist, she has successfully applied to the Hamburg Cultural Foundation's relief fund "Art knows no shutdown": "I also feel that this is an appreciation of my artistic work. "
Zandile Darko came to the theatre as a schoolgirl. During her A-levels in Hamburg she became part of the independent artists' collective "Label Noir" in Berlin, an association of Afro-German theatre and filmmakers, where she is still active today. "That was an important step for me", Zandile Darko remembers: "We turned ten this year and are now in the pre-production of our next big production, which will premiere in January 2021 at Theater Hebbel am Ufer Berlin". She later became a member of the ensemble of Hajusom, a centre for transnational art in Hamburg, which since 1999 has combined artistic quality and political activism. Hajusom produces an annual production at Kampnagel Hamburg, Germany's largest independent theatre and production company. "My artistic work always has a political dimension. In my work, I always look for ways of expression to break through existing narratives and give space to more than one perspective," explains Zandile Darko.

Practice is one part of it, theory another. "I came to Leuphana University through Steffi Hobuß," says the alumna. In her search for a suitable university for her bachelor's degree, Zandile Darko listened to a lecture by philosopher Dr. Steffi Hobuß on cultural theory and cultural analysis at an information day at Leuphana College and was convinced. Zandile Darko later worked as a tutor for Dr. Steffi Hobuß and also wrote her bachelor thesis with her: "I asked the question to what extent performances can provide a critical counterstatement to the official German colonial historiography," reports Zandile Darko. The time at Leuphana also shapes her artistic work today: "Without her studies I wouldn't be where I am now. The theoretical background helps me a lot in my work," says Zandile Darko. After her bachelor's degree, she studied at the renowned Rose Bruford College in London, where she completed the "Actor Performer Training" program with a Master of Fine Arts degree. Thanks to the support of Dr. Hobuß, she was able to finance her studies in London with a scholarship from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes: "Steffi Hobuß continued to pursue my artistic work after my studies at Leuphana and has encouraged and supported me to this day. She was the one who recommended me to the Studienstiftung." In addition, she completed a two-year training course at the London International School of Performing Arts in Physical Theatre as an Alfred Toepfer Stiftung scholarship holder.
Her time in London opened many new doors for Zandile Darko: "Entirely new possibilities opened up there. For example, I founded the duo collaboration "Wet Paint" with the author and theatremaker Therese Ramstedt and brought our first production to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe very successfully," she says. In Great Britain, she has built up a large network of artists* and maintains contacts with Rio, London or Tel Aviv via the Internet in Corona times: "Spatial distances have been relativized by the pandemic.“

Nevertheless, the artist is very happy that rehearsals will start again at the end of June. From 30 July, the production "DAS GUTE" will be performed at the Bostelwiebeck Fairground Theatre in Altenmedingen near Bad Bevensen. With "Label Noir" she can be seen in August at a reading, which will be filmed, in the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin. In a few years she would like to have a company herself and would like to further develop her methodical work: "Giving workshops is already an important part of my artistic activity.“