Deborah Asiimwe Gkashugi is a soft spoken young woman and, at first glance you would not imagine that she is an award winning playwright with the BBC. She tells us about her success and how she has gotten to the top.
Who is Deborah Asiimwe? Who is Deborah Asiimwe the playwright?
My full name is Asiimwe Deborah GKashugi, but officially I go by Deborah Asiimwe. I am not sure that there is a difference between Asiimwe, the person and Asiimwe the playwright. I believe that who I am as a person makes who I am as a playwright/theatre practitioner. Personality wise, I tend to be very chatty when I am with close friends, otherwise, I am a quiet and reserved person. I have been told that I am a workaholic. Other people say that I am sarcastic and that I have a dry sense of humor. All this might be true. When I am not at my day job and I am not writing, I am reading. I am an indoor type of person, although I enjoy going out with friends occasionally. I also enjoy taking long walks, jogging, seeing theatre and movies. I am very close to my family and I love laughing.
Do you have any shows planned here in Uganda or anywhere around the world?
I just concluded a show of one of my plays, Cooking Oil. It was performed at In Movement performing space, in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb. A week after Cooking Oil, I had a reading in New York, of another play of mine, Un-Entitled, that was presented by Hybrid Theatre Works. The reading was live streamed in Kampala and Nairobi with the support of Culture Hub at La MaMa Theatre in New York, Uganda National Cultural Centre-National Theatre, and Theatre Factory. Next year, Cooking Oil, will be on tour in Los Angeles.
What inspires you?
In Uganda, wherever you go, there is always a story. I am surrounded by stories – by what I see, what I hear, what I experience directly or indirectly, the conversations I hold with people or eavesdrop on. Every single thing around me is a story. I am very keen about my surroundings: nature, people, mannerisms, the media, animals and anything out of the ordinary.
What is your greatest strength?
I believe that I am a hard worker, and I am always keen to learn. I try to keep relationships that I have built. I am very committed to things that I set out to do. I believe that I am consistent. Whatever I set out to do I try to do it very well. I think deeply about things, and take decisions after careful thinking.
What is your greatest weakness?
I tend to be very emotional about things. I am my worst critic. I am not a spontaneous person. I am not outgoing.
If there was anything you would do different, what would that be?
In my late teens and early twenties, I fought the artist in me, largely due to society’s attitude towards the arts. Today I regret the time I wasted trying to be what everyone told me I was.
Describe Deborah Asiimwe in three words?
Hard to describe.
Asiimwe Deborah Gkashugi now works with Sundance Institute in New York as the East African Specialist in Theatre. She recently put together a performance during the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts with a group of performing artists and it was welcomed as a great success. She is still reaching for the stars as far as Ugandan Theatre is concerned.