Clarisse Makundul Talks … Under the Kundé Tree @ Southwark Playhouse

Clarisse Makundul Productions is a new theatre production company dedicated to presenting diverse voices.

Their latest production is a revival of the play Under the Kundè Tree, currently showing at Southwark Playhouse. We spoke to the production company’s co-founder Clarisse Makundul to find out more

Please introduce yourself …

Hello, my name is Clarisse Makundul and I’m a writer, producer, and performer. I was born and partly raised in France, but I’m originally from Cameroon and Chad.

What started you on this particular career path?

I drifted into writing and producing, but acting will always be my first love. It was a means of escape and a way to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Tell us about Under the Kundè Tree

Under the Kundè Tree is set in the 1950s during the Cameroonian War of Independence. It centres on the conflicted desires of Sara, a young woman struggling to balance her family’s expectations with her own wish to marry the man she wants.

Selina Jones as Sara in Under the Kunde Tree – credit: Steve Gregson

Why this particular story?

Unfortunately, not many people know about the “Hidden War” of Independence. That’s why I wrote Under the Kundè Tree to spread a little awareness about a country little-known in Britain and to highlight the important role women played in fighting for and achieving independence.

Tell us about your team; who are you depending on to bring the Under the Kundè Tree to life?

I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with such a remarkably talented team and supportive venue. I am so grateful to Southwark Playhouse, the show’s cast (Selina Jones, Fode Simbo, Amma-Afi Osei and Yinka Awoni) and the creative team (Director Ebenezer Bamgboye, Set Designer Niall McKeever, Lighting Designer Arnim Friess, Sound Designer Max Pappenheim, Movement Director Rose Ryan, Dramaturgs Grégoire Colin and Laure Bachelier-Mazon, Costume Supervisor Natalia Alvarez and Stage Manager Olivia Wolfenden) who have all helped bring this play to life.

What has working on Under the Kundè Tree taught you about yourself as a creative?

It has taught me valuable lessons, such as asking for help when needed and turning setbacks into opportunities rather than getting frustrated with things I can’t control. But it is easier said than done.

Under the Kunde Tree – credit: Steve Gregson

Highs, lows, resolutions to getting Under the Kundè Tree made?

Highs, receiving Arts Council England funding. This project wouldn’t have been possible without their support. Audience reactions. Lows, I’ve had to endure mistakes and failures to get to where I am today. However, I don’t
have any regrets because I’ve learned from these experiences.

What are you watching?

I’m not watching anything lately…

What are you reading?

The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis.

What are you listening to?

Expensive Shit and Zombie by Fela Kuti.

Last thing you saw on stage?

Sleepova at the Bush Theatre.

Whose footsteps are you following in?

I’m not following in anyone’s footsteps, I’m just trying to carve out my own path.

What’s next?

A well-deserved break before embarking on my next project.

Where can we see Under the Kundè Tree?

Southwark Playhouse, Borough, until 17th June.

What’s your socials?

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @cmp_london


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