John Pfumojena

Image of John Pfumojena standing in front of a dark grey background, wearing a red shawl over one shoulder and black beads. Carrying a warm red mbira showing the inside of the instrument.

John Pfumojena has joined the Humanities Cultural Programme as Visiting Fellow for 2022/23.

John is a Zimbabwean Music Composer, Theatre Director/Practitioner and Actor/Musician who is published by Warner Chappell Music (Warner Music Group). His Discography includes: the collaborative album ‘Sounds Of Refuge’  with Sudanese musician Mohamed Sarrar (Executive Production by Good Chance Theatre). John is a co-writer and performer on Sunny Jain’s album ‘Phoenix Rise’ .

As a composer and music director, he has worked on the critically acclaimed play ‘The Jungle’ by Good Chance Theatre . John has created a multi-disciplinary show called ‘BUNKER OF ZION’, which is completed scored by Zimbabwean Marimba and Mbira and is co-produced with The Collaborative Touring Network .

John Pfumojena, also professionally known as John Falsetto, is a recipient of the OBIE Special Citation Award (NYC) for his work on ‘The Jungle’ play, and Broadway World San Francisco Award for ‘Best Featured actor in a Play’ for the same production. Furthermore, the Zimbabwe Achievers’ Awards (UK) presented John with an Honorary ‘Cultural Ambassador’ Award.  He has played the iconic role of Peter Pan in the National Theatre Productions’ ‘Peter Pan’. Furthermore, John has worked in productions at the Young Vic, the Old Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Annes Warehouse (NYC), the Playhouse West End, and The Curran in San Francisco amongst others.

John’s practice is concerned with the devising performances and training that integrates traditional Zimbabwean and Shona Mbira/culture for the modern age and audience. It has been a key feature in his workshops with performers and young people, as well as his practical lectures at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

During his time as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford, John Pfumojena will lead interdisciplinary workshops with students and researchers from the academic community. These workshops will focus on devising modern hybrid theatre form (music, dance, poetry, storytelling, and more) with key elements drawn from Zimbabwean traditional music and cultural ritual. The ancient Mbira is not only the name of the instrument but the genre of music and may go as far as being the most significant element of the Shona people’s beliefs and way of life. Modern story telling need not discard ancient artistic practices to develop, expand, and integrate.

John will also collaborate with researchers in the Humanities Division with the aim of investigating modern oral tradition and how we document history using technology to retain the aural/oral traditions and practices synonymous with Southern African Bantu cultures. John will journal the entirety of the Fellowship activities as the journaling itself is a part of the research of documenting practice-based art. The Fellowship will conclude with a series of public performances and seminars that promote the exchange of knowledge.  

 

Here is what John had to say about his forthcoming Fellowship:

“It is exciting to be embarking on this Fellowship with TORCH at The University of Oxford, and I’m certainly looking forward to the collaborative research activities with researchers, students, and the staff at the university and the wider community. I am also proud to share the beauty of Zimbabwe and its rich cultural heritage through my artistic voice. UBUNTU - I am because you are".

 Mr. John Pfumojena

VISITING FELLOW

(Music Composer, Theatre Director, Actor/Musician)