Manchester International Festival (MIF), the Young Vic and Green Door Pictures have announced the full cast for Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s collaboration, Tree, which will receive its world premiere from 29 June- 13 July 2019 at Manchester International Festival, before transferring to London’s Young Vic (29 July-24 August).
Created by Elba and Kwei-Armah, Tree is a blend of drama, music and dance which follows one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa – with the audience at the centre of the action. The full cast 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.
Directed by Kwei-Armah, artistic director of London’s Young Vic, with music inspired by Elba’s album Mi Mandela, Tree is a show about identity, family and belonging, seen through the eyes of one man on the toughest journey of his life. Elba will produce along with Green Door Pictures.
Director Kwame Kwei-Armah said: “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. Now that the wonderful Sinead Cusack has joined us, along with a phenomenally talented group of multi-disciplined artists, 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.”
Also in the creative are set and costume designer Jon Bausor, choreographer Gregory Maqoma, lighting designer Jon Clark, sound designer Paul Arditti, video Designer Duncan McLean, music supervisor and composer Michael Asante, dramaturg Mongiwekhaya, casting director Pippa Ailion CDG and associate director Paul Morris.
Christian Bradley’s theatre credits include Orpheus Descending: Light & Shadow (Manchester Royal Exchange); Incoming (Hightide/Latitude); Lidless (Trafalgar Studios); Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe); Pan (Northern Stage); Bonduca (O.A.E.); Stovepipe (National Theatre/Hightide/Bush); Our Friends in The North (Northern Stage);The Seduction of God (The Wrestling School); Macbeth (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Paradise Lost (Headlong); The Romans In Britain (Crucible Sheffield); Scapino The Trickster (Purcarete/Chichester); 5/11 (Pimlott/Chichester); Antigone (Cheek by Jowl/Old Vic); Merlin (Library Manchester); Mariana Pineda (The Gate); Peer Gynt (Southwark Playhouse); The Stoning (BAC); The Disputation, High Jumpers, Family and Penthesilea (Hampstead; Schweyk (Copeau Festival, France).
Lucy Briggs-Owen’s theatre credits include: Out of Water (Orange Tree); Present Laughter (Chichester Theatre); The Divide, Future Conditional and Fortune’s Fool (Old Vic); The Rivals (Bristol Old Vic); The Night Watch (Manchester Royal Exchange); Communicating Doors (Menier Chocolate Factory); Shakespeare in Love (West End); Midsummer Night’s Dream, Boris Godunov and The Orphan of Zhao (RSC).
Sinéad Cusack is an award-winning actress, renowned for her extensive career both on stage and screen. Theatre credits include: King Lear (Duke of York’s Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre); Stitchers (Jermyn Street Theatre); Splendour (Donmar Warehouse); Our Few & Evil Days (Abbey Theatre); Other Desert Cities (Old Vic Theatre); Juno and the Paycock (National and Abbey Theatre); Rock ’n’ Roll (Royal Court); The Birds (The Gate), The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale (The Bridge Project). She has also played many award-winning and award-nominated leading roles for the RSC. Her performance in Our Lady of Sligo at the National Theatre and on Broadway saw her win The Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle awards for Best Actress, as well as an Olivier nomination.
Kurt Egyiawan’s theatre credits include: Mood Music (Old Vic); Othello and Measure for Measure (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Crossings Plays (Royal Court); The Rise and Shine of Comrade Fiasco (Gate Theatre); Richard III; Twelfth Night (both The Belasco Theatre); Season in the Congo (Young Vic Theatre); Berenice (Donmar Warehouse); Henry V (Shakespeare’s Globe); Earthquakes in London (Headlong); King Lear and The Frontline (both Shakespeare’s Globe).
Alfred Enoch’s theatre work includes Red, at the Wyndham’s Theatre, King Lear (as Edgar); Coriolanus (as Titus); Timon of Athens (as Philotus); Antigone (Chorus); Happy New (as Danny); Dinner (as Mike; The Ballad Of Salomon Pavey (as Kit). He is also known for his recurring role as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film series.
Anna-Kay Alicia Gayle is a Jamaican born, London-based dancer. Since graduation, Anna-Kay has performed and taught workshops in France, Italy, Brazil and St. Lucia in a range of styles including contemporary, dancehall, waacking, vogue and African dances.
Joan Iyiola’s theatre credits include: The Duchess of Malfi, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The White Devil, Arden of Faversham, The Roaring Girl, The Orphan of Zhao, Boris Godunov and A Life of Galileo (RSC), Boudica & Omeros (Shakespeare’s Globe); They Drink it in the Congo (Almeida); The Convert, Eclipsed & The Rise and Shine Of Comrade Fiasco (Gate Theatre); Season in the Congo (Young Vic); 24 Hour Plays (Old Vic).
Anthony Matsena is a Sadler’s Wells young associate and the co-founder, co-artistic director and choreographer of Matsena Performance Theatre alongside his brother Amukelani. He previously performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2015 as part of Apex Rising with National Youth Dance Wales, and has performed professionally for Joseph Toonga as part of Just Us Dance Theatre.
Daniella May is a dancer who has toured nationally and internationally working in various dance styles such as contemporary, commercial, urban and African. She has worked with the likes of Uchenna Dance; Southpaw Dance Company; Stomp West End and international tour.
Patrice Naiambana’s theatre credits include: Barber Shop Chronicles, Pericles (National Theatre); The Caretaker (Bristol Old Vic); The New Nigerians, Iyalode of Eti, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi, Tell Them That I’m Young and Beautiful (Arcola Theatre); Iyalode of Eti (Duchess of Malfi) Tour (Utopia Theatre); The Histories, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Cymbeline, Much Ado about Nothing (Royal Shakespeare Company); Othello (Royal Shakespeare Company National Tour); Pericles (Globe Theatre); Perception Gap, The Man who Committed Thought, The Gospel of Othello (Tribal Soul Arts); Corialanus (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Griot’s Tale (Yinka Shonibare Studios); Macbeth in Pidgin (Akogun Nigerian adaptation) (Ritual Theatre Arts).
Mbulelo Ndabeni is a South African born London-based choreographer, dancer, teacher, movement director and director of N’da Dance Company. He has performed with top dance UK and international companies such as Cape Town City Ballet; New Adventures; Rambert; Company Wayne McGregor; Alesandra Seutin Vocab Dance; Ballet Black and Tavaziva.
Andile Sotiya is a South African born dancer, teacher and choreographer. He has taught company classes for the likes of DV8 and Disney’s The Lion King. In 2002 and in 2006/7 he toured with Kylie Minogue’s Fever World Tour and Showgirl Home Coming Tour.