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Interview with Beatriz Romilly from the cast of After Independence

Beatriz Romilly
Beatriz Romilly – Photo credit Chris Mann Portraits

The world première of After Independence by May Sumbwanyambe opens at the Arcola Theatre on 6th May 2016.

Inspired by real events in Zimbabwe, May Sumbwanyambe’s first play is an unflinching examination of land ownership, dispossession and justice in a post-colonial world.

Africa is changing. Country by country, step by step. But for Guy and Kathleen, life on their ranch goes on, just as it has since their ancestors first claimed this land. Until a man from the new government arrives with a smile and a purchase order – but there’s more than just land at stake. Charles will do whatever it takes to restore the farm to the ‘native’ population.

A game of cat and mouse, claim and counter-claim, begins, with the heritage of an entire nation to play for. As truths are revealed and moralities questioned, can things ever be more than simply black and white?

Beatriz Romilly is in the cast of After Independence, playing the role of Chipo.

You have performed on stage, film and television. What do you enjoy most about each?
Its really hard to say. They are each so unique and rewarding in their own ways. They offer very different challenges, but I think I will always have a soft spot for the stage.

You are in the cast of After Independence which has a world premiere at the Arcola Theatre.
What appealed to you most about being a part of this production?
When I first read the play I thought it was a great story which made me think and ask myself questions about a time in history I wasn’t very familiar with.

“Inspired by real events in Zimbabwe”… what can you tell us about the play?
Set in 1998 during the land reclamation events happening in Zimbabwe. The play tells the story of a white Zimbabwean family who get a visit at their farm from a government worker with a purchase order he won’t let them refuse. It explores themes of identity and how a damaged postcolonial country can move forward and heal without imitating past wrongs.

Can you tell us about Chipo, the character that you play.
Chipo has been born and bred in Zimbabwe, an only child, she is the sole heir to the family farm ‘Independence’.
She’s her father’s daughter, a fighter who is determined to remain on their land.

How did you go about researching your character? Did you base it on any real people?
The detail in the script was a great starting point, it gave me a lot of clues on how to proceed. I read several books by authors Alexandra Fuller and Peter Godwin which gave me first hand accounts and insights into what it was like growing up in Zimbabwe at the time.

What can you tell us about rehearsals?
We started off with table work, and now we’re up on our feet unraveling the story.

Why should we come along to see After Independence?
It presents you with four individuals with all their flaws, trying to survive in very difficult circumstances.
Its sure to provoke conversation down the pub afterwards, different opinions. That’s what theatre is all about after all.

Arcola Theatre Listings
24 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL
Twitter: @arcolatheatre



Performance times:
Mondays – Saturdays at 8pm
Saturday matinees at 3:30pm


  • 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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