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 Gabrielle Brooks about the show, her role and what she enjoyed the most about performing in the play.
Please introduce yourself …
Hey, I’m Gabrielle Brooks, I’m an actor/ creative producer. I was born and raised in North London and I’m proudly of Jamaican and Guyanese heritage.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …
Leaning into what brings me joy.
Tell us about your character in Mlima’s Tale and what their goal is …
I actually play several characters in the show. One of the coolest elements of the show is there are 5 actors, 4 of which are multi-role. I can tell you about my first character though. He is a Police Chief – yes, I’m playing a few men too. I think he demonstrates the corruption of power and the lengths a person, who is driven by greed, will go to remain on top.
Tell us about working with your fellow cast …
I’ve really enjoyed working with this cast. There is a real community feel to this piece and I don’t think it would work as well without it really. I value everyone on that stage.
What does the story of ‘Mlima’s Tale’ mean to you personally?
Mlima’s Tale is the eye-opening story about our obsession with consumerism and how it affects animals and wildlife. It’s about the ivory trade but also highlights the importance of legacy and the passing down of stories. I’m always so interested in that.
Tell us a memorable moment from rehearsals.
There is a beautiful and haunting part of the show between Pui (at this point playing a Master Carver) and Ira who plays Mlima enacting a carving sequence. I saw it in rehearsals and was like damn, I think we’ve got something special here.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU …
What are you watching right now?
Trigonometry on BBC has been recommended to me a few times. Been loving it. Also, Couples Therapy on BBC too. If you’re interested in human psychology that is the show for you!
What are you reading right now?
I am actually re-reading a book. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. When I’m busy I love a comfort read.
What are you listening to right now?
PJ Morton – Watch The Sun Live album. Pure joy.
The last thing you saw on stage?
The Effect at The National. Loved it! Just loved it!
What’s on your bucket list?
I should probably say something about my career. However, my brain doesn’t operate like that I must admit. If I had to say something I would say, to spend an extended period of time travelling around the Caribbean.
Celebrate someone else …
I really want to give flowers to Miranda Cromwell. She is our Director on Mlima’s Tale and a truly wonderful creative and collaborator. Her body of work speaks for itself and was the reason I wanted to work with her, but she honestly is a true visionary and a badass. Also, just such a good person.
Celebrate yourself …
I’m proud of the choices I’m making to continue to bring myself joy!
Whose footsteps are you following in?
I wouldn’t like to think I’m following in anyone’s footsteps. Just my own. As long as my Mum is proud (which she so often says she is) I know I’m on the right path.
I’m working on quite a bit outside of my acting at the moment which I’m very excited about.
How do we keep up to date with you and your work?
You can get me on Instagram at @gabby_bro or Twitter @gabbybro
When and where can we go and see ‘Mlima’s Tale’?
We’re on at The Kiln Theatre in Kilburn until Saturday 21st October. Come check us out!