Benedict Lombe is a British-Congolese writer and theatre-maker. She has been on attachment at The Bush Theatre and is currently working on a new commission. She was awarded a residency at Theatre503 as one of their five writers for 2019/2020. Her outdoor piece was performed last summer as part of Damsel Productions’ Outdoors season, and she has been shortlisted for the Papatango Award for Playwriting. She is currently working on developing original TV projects.
WO: How would you describe your writing/work to someone new to it?
BL: I centre diasporic stories that were never allowed to be told with care and nuance; I centre the breadth of Congolese identities; I centre Blackness, in all its power, beauty and struggle.
WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest project?
BL: My latest project is about mapping: interrogating journeys, movements and the concept of ‘elsewhere’ while resisting the very act.
WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?
BL: At first, I thought I wanted to be an actor, but found that I couldn’t resonate with any of the material I was reading. Then I realised I wanted a say in how stories were told and which stories were chosen to be told – and, if I wasn’t reading it, then I would write it myself.
WO: The current issue of Write On! explores the theme of ‘Growth’ and how we navigate Spring as the season of change. With that in mind, do you use changes in the natural world to motivate your writing?
BL: I’d say I use changes in the world at large, in a social, political, economical and environmental sense. I think we’re getting to a point where it would be near-impossible to separate those things. It’s like an ecosystem, where everything is linked.
WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
BL: You are a writer. Burn the word ‘aspiring’. Seriously. It will save you so much grief.
WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
BL: If COVID would kindly jog-on, maybe some of them will see the light of day later this year!
WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
BL: Easy – a black panther. Admittedly, not a ‘fictional’ animal. But when I think about what creature I’d want beside me, empowering me, reminding me of how to sit in my power, hold my head high, never apologise for who I am and always remember my worth, how could it not be a black panther?
You are a writer. Burn the word ‘aspiring.’ Seriously. It will save you so much grief.