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Chanje Kunda – Plant Fetish at the Vault Festival

Chanje Kunda
Chanje Kunda

Take a Leaf out of Chanje Kunda’s Book
Performance artist Chanje Kunda was suffering from stress and anxiety when she first discovered that plants soothe the soul. She fell in love with plants: fleshy succulents, monstera’s hand-shaped leaves, the Venus flytrap, the twining of a creeper. The pressures of life drifted away.

Plant Fetish maps her journey, and features a harem of stunning tropical plants that dress the stage. There will be music and movement, dramatic narrative and metaphors of growth and renewal. The show ends on a climax…

Our Q&A with Chanje Kunda

Q: What (or who) inspired Plant Fetish?
Chanje: Well, plants inspired the show, funnily enough. I read a book called Plant Style that said that plants reduce stress. As I was feeling swamped by the pressures of life, I thought if I bought a load of plants, I could get my stress levels to zero. Then I went nuts buying tropical houseplants. Then I had the idea that they could be co-stars in my new show. We could have great time on stage together, they are stunners.

Q: What research did you do and what was your aim for the show?
Chanje: Well quite by accident I learnt that some women in Mexico, who were fed up with men, were getting married to trees. The trees aren’t very talkative, but they are tall, do great things for the planet, and are renowned for their wood! So I surrendered to this notion, fell in love with plants and started a courtship with them. The aim of the show is to have a raucous time on stage. We do live in the age of anxiety and we do need to find some joy in this life. I hope my show will make people be able to laugh at the absurdities of life, as well as look a little deeper at what causes us to be stressed in the first place.

Q: Can you tell us about the journey of the production – from the first idea to now?
Chanje:  My first scratch performance of Plant Fetish was for Word of Warning’s contemporary performance festival ‘Emergency’. I took all the plants from my house into a gallery space and did a 3-hour durational performance with my Plants. It was more of a dance piece, all the plants got a lap dance, and funnily enough, they enjoy listening to jungle music. It was a blast.

Then I did a crowdfunding campaign to research and develop the show further. I created a one-woman show that maps the journey with Plants. I presented a work in progress for the PUSH festival at HOME MCR, which went really well. It was then commissioned by Slate.Black.Arts.World and I worked with a creative team to devise the show.

Q: What is at the heart of Plant Fetish?
Chanje:  I guess comedy is at the heart of Plant Fetish. I am even laughing to myself as I write this. But it is also a journey to self-acceptance. It is a bit of an anti-capitalist show too. People are always aspiring for more, more money, bigger house, better car, better social life… people compare themselves more and more to other more successful people. Well, I guess the message I want to share is that… you don’t need all that stuff, you just need a lot of plants. I say that because tropical plants make you feel like you are in the tropics. Can’t we just exist in nature, do have to always be more?

Q: How important are plants to our lives and what do people generally need to do better?
Chanje:  Everything is about plants. All alcohol is derived from plants, wine from grapes, beer from hops. All drugs are derived from plants. Food comes from plants, the beauty of nature stems from plants. I think we should stop thinking about cars, and money, and handbags and shoes, and gadgets, and start thinking more about plants. About how beautiful this world is, the natural world.

Q: What are your favourite plants and why?
Chanje:  Cactus is my favourite plant. I’m quite partial to a prick or two, and they have plenty. Lol But seriously, I love them because they can thrive in hostile environments and they know that the longest drought will end in rain. They inspire me to thrive no matter what.

Q: Why should everyone get along to see Plant Fetish?
Chanje:  Plant Fetish is hilarious; get ready for some deep belly laughs. It is a lot of fun, but it is also inspiring. There are some serious moments too though, because life isn’t funny all of the time. However, it is good to laugh at the absurdities of life too, embrace all of it. Anyway, I think the audience show take a leaf out of my book, buy some plants too and be transported into a vortex of flora and fauna.

PLANT FETISH
VAULT FESTIVAL
21 Mar, 22 Mar 2020
Start Time 4.30pm
Duration 1 hour
https://vaultfestival.com/

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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