Mlima’s Tale made its UK premiere at Kiln Theatre in September…
Mlima is known as one of the last ‘Great Tuskers’ – elephants with tusks so large they touch the ground. When he is murdered for these magnificent tusks, Mlima’s ghost follows those connected to his death. From poachers to government officials, to ivory carvers, he watches as capitalism, greed and corruption marks everyone in the ivory trade.
We spoke to star Natey Jones about the show, his role and what he enjoyed the most about performing in the play.
Please introduce yourself …
Hi, my name is Natey Jones and I am currently in Mlima’s Tale at the Kiln. Born in London via St. Kitts and Nevis.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …
Tell us about your character in ‘Mlima’s Tale’ and what their goal is …
I play five characters in Mlima’s Tale: Geedi – a Somalian poacher, Wamwara – a Kenyan Wildlife Ranger, Hassan – a Yoruba Salesman, Ramaaker – an American ship’s Captain and Hong Feng – a Chinese socialite. They each have a similar goal or aim of survival which can lead them all to do things which challenge their personal integrity or morality.
Tell us about working with your fellow cast …
This project has been the embodiment of complete collaboration, surrender and commitment. It was a wonderfully creative and challenging rehearsal room where every creative pushed themselves. A lot of our creative exploration did not make the stage, but it was a safe space to explore and develop our storytelling.
What does the story of Mlima’s Tale mean to you personally?
In a philosophical sense it warns of the very human ability we must dissociate from the harm we cause by justifying our behaviour. Mlima in our tale almost acts as a conscience to prevent any dissociation or denial by seeing his pain as a consequence of that behaviour.
Tell us about a challenging moment during this production that you had to dig deep to get through…
The goal is always to tell the story and often the challenge is to discern whether what I am doing as an individual creative is serving myself, my character or the story. Playing multiple characters is enjoyable as there is an opportunity to create different people with different characteristics and histories but they have to serve the story. So often changes are made and things are lost in the rehearsal room that you may be attached to. Blending personal creativity with others is always a challenge but it brings the greatest beauty.
Tell us a memorable moment from rehearsals.
Ira’s movement. Brandon’s energy. Gabby’s skill. Pui’s humour. Miranda’s tact. Femi’s soul. Shelley’s immersion. I could go on. It was a continuously memorable rehearsal process.
Considering your career evolution, where does this project sit on your checklist …
Take risks and challenge yourself. It checks that and I aim for every project to do that.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU …
What are you watching right now?
Manchester United struggling.
What are you reading right now?
I just read a script that cannot be named.
What are you listening to right now?
I’m still listening to my Soca playlist after Notting Hill Carnival!
The last thing you saw on stage?
Grenfell: in the words of survivors at the National Theatre. It was joyous, heartbreaking and necessary. The survivors still need support and are still fighting for justice. It showed just how powerful art can be and how theatre can be used for activism.
What’s on your bucket list?
Anything I find a little scary.
Celebrate someone else …
Miranda Cromwell is something special.
Celebrate yourself …
First come and see Mlima’s Tale at the Kiln. Then go and watch Pretty Red Dress which was released in cinemas this summer and you can catch on BFI Player / Amazon Prime.
Whose footsteps are you following in?
The future and the beauty of the unknown.
How do we keep up to date with you and your work?
Lara Beach and Ashleigh Hall at Curtis Brown work tirelessly sourcing new projects for me. But
there is always Instagram for any updates or announcements: @nateyjones.
When and where can we go and see ‘Mlima’s Tale’?
Mlima’s Tale is on at the Kiln Theatre until 21st October!