Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Musical to Play Manchester International Festival | Playbill

International News Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Musical to Play Manchester International Festival
Tree is described as a musical journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa.
Idris Elba
Idris Elba Shutterstock

Tree, the new musical collaboration from Idris Elba and Young Vic Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, will premiere as part of the Manchester International Festival in June 2019.

Elba’s 2014 album Mi Mandela serves as the musical backdrop to the world premiere about contemporary South Africa told through the eyes of one young man on a journey of healing.

“Kwame and I have both had a strong desire to work with each other for a long time now, we’ve known each other since we were in our very early twenties and have talked about the kernel of an idea for this show for a while,” Elba said in a statement. “Our joint ambition being to make a piece of work inspired by South Africa, using the album Mi Mandela as a starting point. We’ve both experienced personal moments of healing connected with the country and we’re starting to explore that together. For me, an interesting part of the process is looking at the next part of the story; the new universe that sprung up after Mandela. To be able to investigate that with Kwame, a writer with such tremendous vision for whom I have great respect and love, and within the artistic community of MIF, is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.”

Kwei-Armah will direct the June 29–July 10, 2019, world-premiere run. Casting will be announced at a later date.

The creative team includes set and costume designer Jon Bausor, sound designer Paul Arditti, video designer Duncan McLean, music supervisor/composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, choreographer Gregory Maqoma, and casting director Pippa Ailion.

Elba, who recently signed on for the film adaptation of Cats, is also known for his performances in the Marvel franchise (playing Heimdall), Beasts of No Nation, Star Trek: Beyond, and Mendela: Long Walk to Freedom. He is a Golden Globe Award winner for BBC’s Luther.


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