Two young award-winners direct Fugard’s trailblazing anti-apartheid plays ‘Sizwe Banzi is Dead’ and ‘The Island’
Thursday, 20 June 2013
This year’s Genesis Future Directors Award-winner Matthew Xia and JMK Award-winner Alex Brown will direct Fugard’s two classic plays, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island, in their 40th anniversary year.
Created by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island received their UK premiere in 1973 at the Royal Court, the year after their world premiere in Cape Town in 1972, directed by Fugard and starring Kani and Ntshona. They were performed in repertory and transferred to the West End, winning the London Theatre Critics Award (now the Critics’ Circle Awards) and to Broadway, where Kani and Ntshona won a prestigious Tony Award. As well as receiving critical acclaim, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island were widely recognised as cornerstones in the global anti-apartheid movement.
New Genesis Future Director Matthew Xia – Image © Simon Jay Price
Sizwe Banzi is Dead
18 – 28 September 2013 The Clare
Genesis Future Directors Award-winner Matthew Xia takes on Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Fugard’s momentous, Tony-nominated play which exposes the struggle for freedom and identity in apartheid-era South Africa, unravelling the brutal absurdities of everyday life under oppression.
It’s 1972 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Sizwe Banzi’s passbook gives him just three days to find work. No work and he’ll be thrown in jail. So when Sizwe stumbles across a dead body with a passbook, he asks himself – does his identity card really define who he is? Can he give up his family and his name in order to survive?
Matthew Xia was Assistant Director on the world premiere of Blackta directed by David Lan at the Young Vic in autumn 2012. He served ten years on the Board at Theatre Royal Stratford East where he was also Associate Director. His work there included: Inheritance, Skin, I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky, Mad Blud, Aladdin and The Blacks. Other directing credits include: Re:Definition (Hackney Empire), Wild Child (Royal Court) and Blacklands (NT). He is currently Director in Residence at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, funded through the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme, where in October he will direct the world premiere of Daniel Matthew’s debut play, Scrappers. He sits on the Board of Directors at Rich Mix, and as a DJ and BBC broadcaster has performed as Excalibah across the UK and Europe most recently appearing at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony.
The Genesis Future Directors Award is a major prize established in 2012. The Award was created to nurture an emerging young director by providing them with an opportunity to explore and develop their craft as they create their first fully resourced production at the Young Vic. 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the partnership between David Lan’s Young Vic and the Genesis Foundation supporting the professional development of directors in the UK.
Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona is directed by Matthew Xia.
The Genesis Foundation is a UK-based charity established in 2001 by John Studzinski. It nurtures and develops artistic excellence in collaboration with leading organisations working in the fields of music, theatre, dance and the visual arts by funding specially created programmes that support young directors, playwrights and choral singers. The Foundation’s established partners are: the Royal Court, The Sixteen, Welsh National Opera and the Young Vic. In addition, the Genesis Foundation supports graduate and post-graduate training programmes at LAMDA and the Royal College of Art. Its focus is on mentoring and development work.
8 – 30 November 2013 The Clare
Press night: Thursday 14 November, 7:45pm
James Menzies-Kitchin Award-winner Alex Brown directs The Island for a limited three-week run this November for his Young Vic debut. Created by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona during the apartheid era, The Island is inspired by true stories from South Africa’s notorious Robben Island, the prison Nelson Mandela was held in for 27 years.
John and Winston are cellmates. One may soon be released; one serves a life sentence, but for now they are both prisoners. As they prepare to perform Antigone for the rest of the prison, the two friends begin to see themselves in the characters, exposing the tensions in their friendship and the oppression around them.
Alex Brown directed Old Vic New Voices: 24 Hour Plays in 2010 and went on to work on OVNV’s Ignite project and the TS Eliot Exchange. As an assistant director, his credits include The Turn of the Screw at the Almeida with Lindsay Posner and Jez Butterworth’s The River at the Royal Court with Ian Rickson. He also directs for this year’s National Theatre’s NT Connections Festival.
The Island by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona is directed by Alex Brown and designed by Holly Piggott.
The JMK Trust, now in its 16th year, was set up to commemorate the visionary young director James Menzies-Kitchin, whose career was cut short by his sudden death at the age of 28. Applicants must be under 30, have directed no more than two professional productions and must apply to direct a ‘classic text’. The award combines prestige with the practical benefits of a production budget, rehearsal and production experience.
Previous winners include Thea Sharrock, Orla O’Loughlin, Bijan Sheibani, Mark Rosenblatt, Natalie Abrahami, Polly Findlay, Cathal Cleary and Sam Pritchard in 2012. Previous runners up include Josie Rourke, Carrie Cracknell and Charlotte Westenra. Trustee Clare Menzies-Kitchin was awarded an MBE for services to drama in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2012.
Notes to editors:
Sizwe Banzi is Dead
Runs 18 – 28 September 2013
Monday – Saturday: 7:45pm / Wednesday and Saturday matinees (25 & 28 Sept): 2:45pm
Runs 8 – 30 November 2013
Press night: Thursday 14 November 2013 at 7pm
Monday – Saturday: 7:45pm / Wednesday and Saturday matinees: 2:45pm
Tickets: £15 (previews from 8 – 13 Nov: £10)
To buy tickets: youngvic.org / 020 7922 2922
For more information on Young Vic please see: www.youngvic.org @youngvictheatre
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