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Clive Essame

Clive is a writer and workshop leader. He has worked for Mind, NHS, Magic Carpet – a charity that provides creative activities for people with learning difficulties and mental health issues. He has written plays that educate audiences about physical impairment – Impisi is a tale of sudden physical impairment;change of self image and discrimination alleviated by help and friendship from an unexpected place. Mbali looks at mental health issues in a very accessible way. Both plays have been conceived in the model of 'Poor Theatre' where costume, props and masks are used sparingly or not at all, allowing the audiences’ imagination space to create the ‘world’. He has also written successful comedies. His play scripts are available on his website.

Posts by Clive Essame

portrait of actor with a red streak in his hair

Adapting a play script for different settings

My play Impisi was originally written as a two-hander and was created for specific actors, Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkwane. These two South Africans were very accomplished physical actors, one was trained at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq and both of them had worked together for many years, in many countries including ...

A group of disabled actors, some of whom are in wheelchairs on stage performing Clive Essame's Impisi

Is disability art just for disabled people?

When I originally wrote my play Impisi my intention was for it to be performed by actors – both professional and amateur, both disabled and not – and for audiences made up of the general public. The play encourages us to look at some of the issues around disability while being entertained ...

A photograph of the cast and crew of CEDA's production of Clive Essame's play, Impisi. It shows many actors in wheelchairs and others standing on a theatre set.

On being a writer

Being a writer is a hard business. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” —Harper Lee But it is only the start of being a writer who produces work that is read, seen or heard. To ...

A photograph of a performance of Clive Essame's Impisi in Grahamstown in South Africa featuring performers Sdumo Mtshali and Ellis Pearson

The best place to write a play!

There can be few places that can be better to write a play script than on the beach in Durban, South Africa! Having been so impressed by the work of South African actor/writer Ellis Pearson, and made a plan to tell the story I wanted to tell about disability and ...

watercolour illustration of a lion's face

Writer Clive Essame, creates innovative theatre inspired by the sounds and sights of the African bush./ 11 December 2015

People of all ages ask me why I have written two plays; Impisi is about disability and Mbali is about mental ill-health; using African wild animals as the main characters – good question! It all started in South Africa a few years ago when I was taken to see a performance ...