- Category: TOW 2014
MSHAI MWANGOLA is a Kenyan ‘orator’, actor, director and storyteller whose work draws on performance traditions. She credits her greataunt Jemima Chao and godmother Pheobe Kimonge for introducing her to the power of the storyteller. Mwangola holds a Bachelor of Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya, a master of Creative Arts from the University of Melbourne, Australia and a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, United States. Her philosophy is summed up in the title of her dissertation, “Performing Our Stories, Performing OurSelves”.
For Mwangola, learning to read unlocked the power of the written word; she then became fascinated with the word in performance: on page and on stage. Story, specifically, has inspired her studies, performance, teaching, research, event facilitation and civic engagement.
Including eight publications written around research performance for stage, Mwangola worked as an actress, oraturist, director, dramaturge and stage manager in Kenya and Australia from 1980 to 2000.
Over the past decade, Mwangola has appeared in numerous stage performances and featured as a storyteller in myriad festivals. Mwangola featured at the 3rd Sigana International Storytelling Festival and the Storymoja Hay Festival in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
Currently, Mwangola focuses on amplifying the words of African storytellers, both written and spoken, especially those who honour and further women’s work and lives. Her performances draw from the words of both continental and diasporic Africans as she seeks to engage the communities with which she works, using story as an essential map to plot life: past, present and future.
Mwangola has staged her academic and artistic work in four continents, most recently in events in the United States, South Africa, Tanzania, Scotland and Kenya.