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Live Theatre Production
Script, music and lyrics written and performed by Kema Sikazwe
Directed by Graeme Thompson
Designed by Emma Bailey

World Premiere

The music is always present, you just have to hear it.

What makes us who we are? Do the choices in our lives determine who we become? Are we in control of our own story, or is it in our DNA? 

Kema is three years old when his family move from Zambia to Newcastle’s west end. It’s not easy. It starts with a story of new surroundings, about making a new life, and then watching that life fall apart. About growing up in a world that doesn’t always accept you, but gaining self-belief, trusting your head, your heart and always chasing your dreams. 

Actor, rapper, singer, rising star and Live Theatre Associate Artist Kema Sikazwe (I, Daniel Blake), who performs under the name Kema Kay, makes his powerful stage debut mixing a bittersweet coming of age story with an electrifying live soundtrack and heartfelt words.

WARNING: Strobe lights are used in this production.

Shine Trailer

Audience Reaction to Shine


'This really is a fine piece of theatre—and he's a damned good performer!' British Theatre Guide

'Kema held the Live Theatre audience in the palm of his hand for the entire 70 minute show' North East Theatre Guide

'It’s impossible to resist Sikazwe’s warmth and positivity. In uncertain times like these, to find light in darkness is a message of inspiration that we all need.' Exeunt Magazine

'Sharply observed cross-cultural coming-of-age story elevated by a charismatic performance' The Stage

Post Show Talk - Meet Writer & Performer Kema Sikazwe

Shine Preview Vox Pops

Shine Playlist - Original recordings by Kema Kay of 4 of the songs from the show

Cast & Creative Team

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.

Graeme Thompson, Director

Graeme is a director and dramaturg as well as Creative Producer for Live Theatre. For Live Theatre he has directed Shine, Grounded, Home for Christmas, The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes and Red is the New Blue. He has previously directed at Theatre503, Soho Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, The Jack Studio and University of Leeds.


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


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