A Man of Good Hope, based on the book by Johnny Steinberg and adapted by Isango Ensemble, comes to the Baxter Flipside for a short season from 10 to 20 August at 7.30pm nightly, before jetting off to London for its UK premier at The Young Vic.
The production premiered at the District Six Museum in Cape Town earlier this year and ran for three weeks of sold out performances.
Inspired by a true story, the musical piece traces one young man’s flight from civil war in his childhood Somalia, through the African continent, to seek new opportunities in South Africa. But as he arrives, horrific xenophobic violence erupts sending the country and his plans into chaos.
Directed by Isango’s Artistic Director Mark Dornford-May and performed mainly through music, this new stage adaptation of Oxford University academic Steinberg’s book, features haunting marimbas and vocal performances by the 23-strong ensemble.
The company is made up of both classically trained and untrained singers with an ensemble that includes Pauline Malefane, Noluthando Boqwana, Ayanda Eleki, Zamile Gantana, Zanele Mbatha, Katlego Mmusi, Zoleka Mpotsha, Busisiwe Ngejane, Sonwabo Ntshata, Luvo Rasemeni, Masakane Sotayisi, Luvo Tamba and Ayanda Tikolo.
Isango Ensemble is a South African theatre company that draws its artists mainly from the townships surrounding Cape Town. Their stage productions and films have played to sold-out audiences across the world, and they have received numerous international awards.
They have done this by re-imagining classics from the Western theatre canon, and finding a new context for the stories within a South African or township setting, thereby creating inventive work relevant to the heritage of the nation. The company’s structure embraces artists at all stages of their creative development, allowing senior artists to lead and contribute towards the growth of rising talents. Previous productions include U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, The Magic Flute Impempe Yomlingo, A Christmas Carol iKrismis Kherol and Son of Man.
The production marks the first ever collaboration between the Cape Town-based Isango Ensemble The Young Vic, The Royal Opera, Repons Foundation, BAM and Les Théâtres De La Ville De Luxembourg.
David Lan, the Young Vic’s artistic director, said he knew he wanted to bring the story to the stage before he finished reading the book, which he received as a Christmas gift in 2014. “The idea I had is the journey through Africa, through the different musical styles, expressing the incredible cultural diversity of that continent.”
The conductor is Mandisi Dyantyis, musical direction is by Dyantyis and Pauline Malefane, movement is by Lungelo Ngamlana and lighting design by Mannie Manim.
A Man of Good Hope runs at the Baxter Flipside for ten performances only, from 10 to 20 August at 7.30pm. Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For corporate, block or school bookings, charities and fundraisers, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993, or email email@example.com