Our Passionate Pathways feature for this month is Craig Gunguta.
Dancer, actor, musician, and art’s in education facilitator, Craig is a creative powerhouse who believes he is here for a reason.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Craig moved to Geelong by himself in 2014 when he was 17 years old. In Zimbabwe he was involved in making Zimdancehall music. And since moving to Australia, he has continued to develop his creative practice, working across a range of disciplines.
I asked him what he was up to creatively at the moment:
‘I just made a song on Sunday, just finished recording that track and I’m working on two plays: Six Hours in Geelong and At First Glance. And I just finished shooting a video with an artist called Sticker1 that’s gonna be released on MTV soon. I was dancing in that.’
Theatre was a new thing that he got into pretty soon after coming to Australia. He was in year 10 at North Geelong Secondary College when a group from Western Edge Youth Arts came and did an interactive performance at the school, and some of his friends were doing WEYA’s after-school workshop program, and suggested he came along.
He recalls, ‘everyone was like Craig, gotta join in, gotta join in! My friend Chang was really keen and I wasn’t, but then I started to be the one to say “are you coming?”. I got really interested in acting’.
Three years later, Craig is working for Western Edge Youth Arts as a facilitator, supporting younger participants in a similar open access theatre program in Wyndham, as they find their voice and their confidence in front of an audience. He is also working on WEYA’s big gig for the year, as a member of emerging artist ensemble Geelong Edge. Six Hours in Geelong is a work that the ensemble have devised from scratch, out of an intensive development process that involved each of the ensemble members bringing elements of their own diverse stories and personal experience into the rehearsal space.
I asked Craig about the development process for Six Hours in Geelong, and how it has been for him. He reflected that it has been great working with the ensemble on this project:
‘I get to see how other people see things in this multicultural community. I get to see how everyone thinks, you know, and I appreciate that. Most of the stuff in this story is something that really happened to somebody and something that really happened in the world. When we were writing this we were channelling energies of things we’d experienced and trying to express that. Trying to express how the world is and ways to make it better.’
In Six Hours In Geelong, Craig plays a character called Zondo. He explains that, ‘my character’s name is actually taken from one of my best friends who is in Zimbabwe at the moment. He went to the same school as me in Zimbabwe. There was always an alpha male at the school and he was it. Then he past on the tradition to me. People liked you as that person, but at the same time they feared you. He was sort of a mentor for me. That’s why I named the character that, cos the character really reminds me of him.’
Craig is one of a kind. At 21 he is already carving out a unique path for himself. I asked him about his philosophy of life and he said, ‘I like to – how can I put it – I try to be not the same as everyone. I believe in individualism. Society tries to tell us do this, do this. I try to be different in what I do. We are all equal, I know that, but there are certain ideologies put up by society that are not good for people. The only way we can overcome the stuff that’s happening in the world, the racism and stuff, is to all realise that we are different and we are unique in our own ways. And like, if you’re tall and I’m short, and if I’m trying to reach something, you can give me a hand. Our differences shouldn’t separate us. They should be able to unite us. You know?
‘From where I’m from I didn’t think that I could ever amount to anything. Personally I feel I’m here for a reason. I’ve seen people suffer. I’ve been in environments where I didn’t think that I would make it. And so I feel like there’s a reason why I’m here. All of the people who didn’t make it. I just remember them and think “why am I here?”. I don’t know why they didn’t make it here and I did. That just gives me an extra edge in whatever I do, and so much passion, cos you never know where you’re going to end up in life’.
Western Edge Youth Arts is proud to have Craig as one of our emerging artists and wish him all the best for the upcoming show and all of his creative endeavours.
Six Hours In Geelong will be showing at Geelong Performing Arts Centre on 27 October, 1pm and 7pm. Bookings via the GPAC website.
Watch Zondo’s Story on Youtube.
Article by Kendra Keller, Western Edge Youth Arts