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Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah co-create showstopper – ‘Tree’ – about contemporary South Africa

Diaspora

Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah co-create showstopper – ‘Tree’ – about contemporary South Africa

Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s have joined  forces to create and produce Tree –  an electrifying show about  one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa.

Tree, which blends drama, music and dance, with the audience at the centre of the action an exhilarating show about identity, family and belonging, seen through the eyes of one man on the toughest journey of his life.It’s just 12 hours from London to his parents’ homeland, but to Kaleo (Alfred Enoch – of the Wes Gibbins fame in How To Get Away With Murder ), South Africa is another world.

Alfred Enoch plays Kaleo. Photos Credit Mark Brenner

When a family tragedy finally forces him to visit for the first time, Kaleo must confront hidden histories and right the wrongs of the past. But first he must face the present: a shattered family, fighting to hold on to what they believe is theirs, in a nation haunted by the ghosts of its own turbulent past.

Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, with music inspired by Elba’s album Mi Mandela , Tree will first premiere this July at Manchester International Festival,  before transferring to London’s  Young Vic theatre.

The play teems with a formidable that includes: Christian Bradley; Lucy Briggs-Owen; Sinéad Cusack; Kurt Edyiawan; Alfred Enoch; Anna-Kay Alicia Gayle; Joan Iyiola; Anthony Matsena; Daniella May; Patrice Naiambana; Mbulelo Ndabeni and Andile Sotiya.

“I feel genuinely privileged to be working with this incredible group of actors, dancers and musicians to bring to life our shared vision for Tree, inspired by Idris’s intoxicating Mi Mandela album. As a director and as a producer, what excites me most is our attempt to blur the genre lines; Tree places the audience, standing, at the centre of the action – almost like a club, or a gig – and at the same time it takes them on a theatrical journey with a narrative that emotionally engages. We held some workshops with Alfie Enoch earlier this year, and the atmosphere in that room was fascinating…I cannot wait to get into rehearsals and prepare to bring that infectious energy to audiences at MIF and the Young Vic later this year.” says Kwei-Armah who is also Artistic Director of the Young Vic.

And Elba tweeting to his 2.7million followers ethused: “It’s happening people! We are bringing Tree to the stage at @MIFestival with Kwame Kwei-Armah. My vision and our joint ambition to work together to produce this piece started with the Mi Mandela album.”

The show will run between 4 and 13 July at the MIF, before heading for a run at the Young Vic from 29 July.

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Written by Regina Jane Jere

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion.

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