British actress falls in love with Zim

HARARE - A British actress, vivacious Nathalie Pownall has fallen in love with Zimbabwe. The young star was recently in Harare as part of Tutuma Theatre Company, to perform Patrick Marber's award-winning play, Closer. The play has since been turned into a global Oscar winning picture starring Hollyw

ood’s crème de la crème in Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen.
Pownall fervently recounts her experience of Harare. “I had an incredible time at HIFA, it was a privilege and an honour to be a part of such a friendly community. It was the second time I’d visited the country and what remains with me as a foreigner more than anything else is the people’s enthusiasm and dignity.”
She described the relevance of the Closer production in communicating the complexities of love and promiscuity in modern relationships. “Closer mainly highlights the dangers of promiscuity, which must be a global concern, and one that has to be urgently addressed. It also reveals the fine line between lust and love.” This is an important message, especially for the young, as we’re living in the age of AIDS, a disease decimating the world’s population at a frighteningly alarming rate.
Pownall and Zimbabwean-born actress Janelle Jenvey are involved with Aids Support Organisations in the country. Last October, they visited Chitungwiza and held dance workshops with groups of young girls affected by AIDS. “At the time the township was still recovering from Operation Clear Up so there was a lot of degradation. Despite this underlying sadness we were welcomed with open arms and deep smiles. I remember feeling incredibly blessed that we had been invited to share our creative experiences with this unfortunate but hopeful lot of happy people.”
The visit of the Closer cast at HIFA 2006 did not just end on the stage, but went beyond into the depths of Harare and her surrounding towns. The crew facilitated a movement performance class at a Chitungwiza public hall. For a workshop organised for a manageably small figure of 30 children, more than 100 children and youth turned up and it was joyous chaos.
“At the end of the session we were all swamped with excitable children. I spent a good hour writing my mobile number on their arms. Its always nerve-wracking teaching children – they are the honest souls in this world and aren’t afraid to say they think you are rubbish or boring so it was great that we were able to have so much fun with them all,” Pownall said.
The young actress sees her philanthropic duties in Zimbabwe growing even more. “I would love to be involved in more outreach programmes and I feel a real homing to the country and need to want to help. I have already been in touch with an organisation called ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa). They have a project at the moment to improve sanitary protection for vulnerable women in Zimbabwe. They have called upon many esteemed British Actors to support the cause and I am keen to get involved as a young British actress. I don’t want to just make a donation I want to be involved physically and help to make a positive and informed difference.”

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Post published in: Arts

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