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A Word from Writer & Performer Kema Sikazwe (Kema Kay)

Shine is something we all have deep inside us, we just have to find it.

Shine is a story about self-belief and acceptance. It’s my story. Zambian born I was 3 years old when I came to the UK, to Newcastle’s West End. It explores my journey and struggles trying to understand a world that doesn’t always accept you. Trials, obstacles and unpredictable situations…Life. It’s told through music, spoken word and acting. It’s a story we all deal with that can be told in many ways. 

Through music I’ve always been open with what I’ve been going through. I’ve always wanted to tell my story hoping it will inspire other people. The platform came at the right time. 

I’m extremely excited and nervous at the same time. It’s a challenge but I love challenging myself. I’ve put everything into this and its quite a vunerable story so I hope it will connect with people.

When I was younger, I was dealing with a lot. Bullying, suicidal thoughts, problems at home. My mother used to sing all the time. I got it from her. When I was going through dark times, I would write what I’m going through, turn it into a poem which eventually turned into making songs.

When directing me in I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach would tell me being a great actor is not acting at all - but becoming instead and listening to what the other person is saying. Because you’re not acting – you’re reacting.  I also learnt how truth in stories can be so powerful and influential, so this was the approach I had when making Shine.

The audience can expect to laugh, cry, think and hopefully be inspired.  I love to inspire people that anything is possible no matter what you’re going through. This has been my goal for a while. Where I grew up there was huge lack of self-belief. People watching me achieving things helps them believe they can too.

Shine has its World Premiere at Live Theatre from Thu 2 - Sat 11 May 2019. Kema is doing a FREE Meet the Artist Post Show Talk after the performance at 7.30pm on Tues 9 May, free for ticket holders that evening. Find out more and book tickets here.

Shine transfers to Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from Thu 16 - Sat 18 May, and there is a FREE Meet the Performer Post Show Talk after the performance on Thu 16 May.  Information and tickets for Shine at The Traverse here

Kema Sikazwe, Writer & Performer

Kema is an actor, rapper, singer and was selected as a Live Theatre Associate Artist in 2017. He scratched an extract of Shine in Elevator Festival Scratch Night in 2018 and is looking forward to debuting his first full show at Live Theatre and Traverse Theatre.

Kema was Daniel Blake’s neighbour China, in Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake (Sixteen Pictures and BBC Films). He has since appeared in the 2017 film version of Lady Macbeth (Sixty Six Pictures).

On TV he has appeared in Wolfblood and The Dumping Ground (both BCC) and Beowulf and Vera (ITV). He also works with young people encouraging them in music, writing and creativity.



  • Arts Council England
  • Community Foundation
  • European Regional Development Fund


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