Mandela Musical Premiere to Be Young Vic’s 2022 Flagship | Young Vic

The world premiere of a musical about Nelson Mandela’s “young, sexy and radical” beginnings is coming to the Young Vic in London this autumn as a season-long flagship production that examines the theme of revolution, protest and of its consequences.

Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah said Mandela’s musical was not a “romantic interpretation” of the political leader’s life, but rather focused on preparing for his imprisonment on Robben Island, where he spent most of his 27 years. tenure as a political prisoner and the impact he had on his family, and in particular on his second wife, Winnie.

Kwei-Armah said: “Revolution doesn’t come cheap, it costs a lot to the soul, and I think for a generation that grew up with grassroots activism, it’s a really interesting reminder. costs and what we need to do to create a better world.

Written by Laiona Michelle, who wrote Little Girl Blue, a musical about the life of Nina Simone, and featuring songs by South African composers Shaun and Greg Dean Borowsky, Mandela was produced with the approval and collaboration of the family of the political leader and has been in the works for seven years.

His granddaughter Nandi Mandela said she hoped her grandfather’s story, “of a man of humble beginnings who got up by his boots”, would resonate with audiences; while his great-grandson Luvuyo Madasa said he wanted people to see him “in a new light and recognize that he was just a human being going his own way”.

Kwei-Armah said the production came at a time when Mandela’s legacy was being debated in South Africa, with young South Africans divided between seeing him as a “hero or someone who let them down”. . “It’s interesting because this theme is going through the world right now. We can look at Gen Z’s perspective on Millennials,” he said.

Originally announced in 2019 as an upcoming Broadway production, Mandela is now part of a new summer and fall season at the Young Vic that Kwei-Armah hopes to empower a younger generation, who have grown up with the climate protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, an understanding of the price radicals have paid in the past.

“I saw my children or my young people being born into radicalism in such a way that my generation was taken away from radicalism,” he said. “I think it’s important to not just see the headlines of what it’s like to be radical, but the cost to Mandela’s family, the cost to his relationship, the cost to his mental health. “

Other productions in the Young Vic season included an adaptation of Édouard Louis’ Who Killed My Father, which has been described as “a bludgeoning critique of France‘s treatment of the working class”. Acclaimed director Ivo van Hove will take the helm, with Dutch actor Hans Kesting performing the play as a monologue. Kwei-Armah said the play would gain renewed interest after the French elections where many of the issues covered in the work, such as workers’ rights, the treatment of the working class and snobbery, drove an election in which the French political map seems to be entirely redrawn.

Kwei-Armah said: “We have seen the rise of Trumpian America from Brexit Britain to a radicalized France. We have seen the effects, I think, of the last 10 years of economic rebellion.

Chasing Hares, a new play by award-winning playwright Sonali Bhattacharyya, will debut at the Young Vic and is about the impact of globalization as the play moves between West Bengal and the UK, while “camp-comedy- satirical horror” the secretaries also features.

Since fully reopening after pandemic restrictions were lifted, Kwei-Armah has led The Collaboration, which starred Paul Bettany as Andy Warhol and Jeremy Pope as Jean-Michel Basquiat, with a comedy version classic music from Rodgers and Hammerstein Oklahoma! is slated to open at the Young Vic from late April. Mandela will open on November 28 and run until February 4, 2023.