Bite-sized Q & A with…Butshilo Nleya on his Love Bites piece at York Theatre Royal

Butshilo Nleya: Zimbabwean playwright uses words, music and dance to explore the language of cultures, migration, identity and diversity

THE Love Season will soon set hearts pulsing at York Theatre Royal, where the Step 3 reopening will make its mark with Love Bites: a love letter to live performance and a toast to the city’s creative talent.

More than 200 artists from a variety of art forms applied for £1,000 love-letter commissions to be staged on May 17 – the first day that theatres can reopen after restrictions are lifted – and May 18.

The 22 short pieces selected will be performed each night at 8pm under the overall direction of Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster. Each “bite” will take hold for five minutes.

In the fourth in a series of CharlesHutchPress Q&As, Zimbabwean-born playwright Butshilo Nleya has five minutes to discuss his Love Bite, Ekhaya, Love Them Both?

How did you hear about Love Bites, Butshilo?

“I found out about Love Bites on Twitter. Twitter is my go-to place for call-outs and updates.” 

What is your connection with York?

“I came to York to pursue a degree in theatre and stayed. I have been drawn to cities like York in my travels; Bath, Norwich and York has welcomed my family and me.” 

What will feature in your Love Bite, Ekhaya, Love Them Both?, and why? 

“Ekhaya will feature a short film by Sunnie Hsia, some live drumming and a letter from a passer-by searching for home.” 

After working in Africa, Europe and the USA since 2002, how are you finding working in York, when addressing the themes of place, home and the multiplicity of cultures in your writing?

“York is … ‘white’ and my work focuses on the question/quest of finding home and how to encourage a sense of home. There are pockets of difference and diversity and I hope that I can celebrate that in my writing.” 

In lockdown, what have you missed most about theatre?

“Everything about theatre but most of all, sitting in a space with people, watching what I can only describe as the magic of storytelling.” 

What’s coming next for you?

“I’m working with Theatre Temoin and writing for their NHS Yarns project. EXCITING.”

What would be the best way to spend five minutes if you had a choice?

“If I had an extra five minutes a day, I would spend them with my family who laugh at my dad jokes and ground me.” 

Tickets cost Pay What You Feel at or on 01904 623568.