Pictorial Rhodesia

In her devastatingly beautiful The Convert, playwright Danai Gurira delves into a very particular place and time and set of characters to begin grappling with being a 21st Century Christian, woman, and Zimbabwean. “Who we are today,” Danai explains, “is how we are affected by what happened back then.” In the play, she transports us to Southern Africa in 1895, to the part of the continent then known as Rhodesia, today called Zimbabwe. As the production dramaturg, one of my roles in the rehearsal process was to help the director, actors, designers, and production team access the particulars of this world, especially since a reasonable amount of verisimilitude was of interest to us. With the support of my colleague Carrie Hughes at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, I pulled together some amazing photographs of the people, landscape, and infrastructure from the period and covered part of Woolly’s rehearsal hall with them to immerse everyone in the world of the play. Below is a small sampling of some of these photographs, which trace the British colonization of the region and the Shona and Ndebele people.

-John M. Baker, Woolly Mammoth Literary Manager

1 Ndebele Village 1890s

Ndebele Village 1890’s

2 Shona Village 1890s

Shona Village 1890’s

3 Girls in Zimbabwe

Girls in Zimbabwe

4 Women in Matebeleland

Women in Matebeleland

5 Girls in Zimbabwe

Girls in Zimbabwe

6 Colonists


7 Colonists


8 Ndebele chiefs

Ndebele chiefs

9 Lobengula's war doctor

Lobengula’s war doctor

10 Miners


11 Prisoners


12 Chisawasha Mission 1891

Chisawasha Mission 1891

13 Infrastructure



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Filed under Connectivity, The Convert

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