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Butshilo Nleya

University of York
PhD, Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media (by creative practice)

“Receiving the YGRS Scholarship has allowed me to continue what has become a lifelong pursuit of education.” – Introducing our latest Human of York, PhD student and playwright, Butshilo.

“My work focuses on ideas of belonging, and the diversity of cultures.

“I was born in Zimbabwe and I came to York to do a BA in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance, after years of touring and working within community arts organisations in the UK. At York, I focused on playwriting, theatre with a keen interest in belonging, displacement and sanctuary studies and global citizenship. I was then able to expand upon this with an MA in Social Work here, and now I’m working towards a PhD.

“Since completing my MA I’ve returned to York to co-lecture, and also served as a guest lecturer at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I teach a course on global theatrical leadership. I also co-lecture at Sheffield University on Social work- Migration and Diversity.

“I’ve worked as a playwright, theatre director, percussionist, producer and educator across Africa, Europe and the USA, and I was recently commissioned by York Theatre, Theatre Temoin, Royal and Derngate, Derby Creative Arts Network and Sheba Arts.

“As a YGRS Scholarship recipient, I’ve been able to pursue my PhD, Ndebele Folk traditions: a diasporic dramatic exploration of home and belonging as part of the School of Creative Arts Technologies.

“My work is rooted in the Ndebele saying: “Umuntu ngabantu ngabantu”, which roughly translates to “a person, is, because of others”. This is a tenet of uBuntu, a social philosophy that is widely taught and practised in my culture.

“The scholarship has allowed me to continue what has become a lifelong pursuit of education. It has helped me zero in on the people I want to collaborate with, experiment with, and develop new knowledge as I move forward in my creative profession.

“Being a part of the postgraduate community at York makes me want to take advantage of all the university has to offer in order to have a productive and fulfilling research experience.”