• What’s it like to live with a disability? Ottery author’s story

    14th June 2013 | News | Claire
  • Clive, from Ottery St Mary initially wrote “Impisi” as a play. This was performed at the South African National Arts Festival and in schools in kwaZuluNatal.

    “The play was originally written after I saw two South African actors, Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkwane, perform in front of a packed school hall in Pietermaritzburg. They kept the audience spell bound for an hour with their portrayal of African wild animals, and I felt then that I wanted to work with them” says Clive.

    “I knew that I wanted to write a play about how people with disabilities are seen in society and how we may see ourselves” continues Clive, who has lived with a disability from birth. “Now I knew how I could create a compelling and entertaining play”.

    The following year Clive had obtained sponsorship to travel out to South Africa again to write the play with Ellis Pearson. The idea for Impisi and the story was created on the beach in Durban, and the following year Ellis and his new fellow actor Sdumo Mtshali performed the play under a tree in Drostdy Park, Grahamstown where the National Arts Festival is held. Clive was lucky enough to be there to see the play come to life.

    Then last year Clive decided to turn the play script into a book. He worked from a copy of the script and developed the book around it. “I wanted to keep the character of the piece as it was; the story is told entirely through the characters of African wild animals and we had researched the behaviour and habits of the animals.

    We had, of course, given the animals the power of speech and imposed certain human characteristics on them so we could tell the story” says Clive.

    “The story is about a young male lion in the prime of life who is caught in a wire snare. He escapes but is permanently disabled. The story shows how he rises from the depths of despair with help from a very unlikely source. Other animals are introduced to make certain points; for example there are a couple of cheeky meerkats who abuse and tease the lion while he is unable to retaliate.

    The “Impisi” in the title is a hyena, the word means hyena in the isiZulu language. These animals are seen by us humans as ugly, ungainly scavengers, which is far from the truth. We use these ideas to raise issues that we want to have discussed. We also look at self image, prejudice and discrimination. But it is done with humour in this warm hearted story.”

    The book is aimed primarily but not exclusively at 8 – 14 year olds and the play can be staged by as little as two actors, or in a whole drama class as well as being suitable for adults to perform.

    Clive can work with schools and drama groups, running workshops that look at how the play can be staged, or following a performance where he can discuss the issues raised in the show.
    He can also give readings and discuss his e-book locally.

    For further information visit http://www.impisiproductions.com , https://www.facebook.com/ImpisiProductions or call Clive on 07804 215006

    Photograph:  Clive Essame.