Royal & Derngate’s latest Made in Northampton production has been taking advice from a magic consultant to tell a haunting story of visions and visitations.
Our Lady of Kibeho tells the story of three Rwandan schoolgirls who foresaw the country’s terrible massacres. It features a host of special effects to recreate the African desert and the visions of the girls.
Royal & Derngate Chief Executive Jo Gordon said the atmosphere in the run up to tonight’s opening performance has been “brilliant”.
“We have got some of the most exciting theatre actors working today in the building at the moment. The scale James (Dacre) has brought to the production is amazing. It has got an original score and there is even a magic consultant bringing it all to life.
“There is a community ensemble involved so there is a real community feel to it. This is the UK Premiere of the play, it has never been done here before so it is going to be a special moment for the town.”
Royal & Derngate released the following statement about the show:
Royal & Derngate Northampton have confirmed the cast and creative team for its UK premiere production of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho, which takes to its Royal stage in January. Directed by the venue’s Artistic Director James Dacre (who directed Hall’s 2010 Olivier Award winning production of The Mountaintop) and designed by 2018 Tony award nominee Jonathan Fensom, with original music by Orlando Gough, and photography by Pulitzer Prize-winning war photographer Paul Watson. The ensemble cast is led by Gabrielle Brooks, Michelle Asante and Ery Nzaramba. This UK premiere production promises to be an epic event, with its large professional cast complemented by the Royal & Derngate Community Ensemble and members of the theatre’s Young Company.
In 1981 in Rwanda, schoolgirl Alphonsine claims the Virgin Mary has appeared to her in the village of Kibeho, warning of the unimaginable: her country becoming hell on earth. Her friends ignore her, her teachers Sister Evangelique and Father Tuyishime scold her, until another student sees the vision, and then another…
Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho presents a haunting insight into the true events that captured the world’s attention. A spectacular meditation on faith and everyday miracles, it was hailed “the most important play of the year” by the Wall Street Journal when it premiered in New York in 2014.
Taking the part of schoolgirl Alphonsine is Gabrielle Brooks, whose recent credits include her acclaimed performance of Viola in Twelfth Night at the Young Vic and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Sheffield Theatres and West End). Playing Sister Evangelique and Father Tuyishime are Michelle Asante (Ruined, Almeida and Welcome Home, Captain Fox, Donmar Warehouse) and Ery Nzaramba who has collaborated extensively with Peter Brook, leading the casts of Theatre des Bouffes du Nord international tours of The Prisoner (National Theatre), Battlefield (Young Vic) and The Suit (Young Vic), and was also seen in Royal & Derngate’s Festival of Chaos productions, The Bacchae and Blood Wedding. The cast also features Michaela Blackburn, Ibinabo Jack, Pepter Lunkuse, Michael Mears, Keenan Munn-Francis, Yasmin Mwanza, Rima Nsubuga, Ewart James Walters and Leo Wringer. The professional cast is complemented by the Royal & Derngate Community Ensemble and members of the theatre’s Young Company.
Our Lady of Kibeho is directed by Artistic Director James Dacre, who premiered Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop which won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2010 and has gone on to become one of the most produced plays in America this decade. James’ productions at Royal & Derngate include premieres of Arthur Miller’s The Hook, Dawn King’s Brave New World and Roy Williams’ Soul, alongside major touring revivals including UK Theatre Award-winning productions of Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed and Shakespeare’s King John. Our Lady of Kibeho sees Dacre reunited with composer Orlando Gough (King John) and designer Jonathan Fensom (King John, The Herbal Bed).
Katori Hall’s other plays include Hoodoo Love, Pussy Valley and Hurt Village, which won the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and is currently in development as a feature film. Hall recently wrote the book for Tina – The Tina Turner the Musical, which is currently playing in the West End.
Katori Hall commented: “I’m beyond ecstatic to work with James again and to bring Our Lady of Kibeho to the UK for the first time. In these turbulent times, I hope this piece will spark a dialogue within Royal & Derngate’s surrounding community and beyond about healing cultural, political and racial divides.”
Our Lady of Kibeho takes to the Royal stage in Northampton from Saturday 12 January to Saturday 2 February 2019, with a national press night on Wednesday 16 February.
For more information, visit the theatre’s website www.royalandderngate.co.uk. Tickets can be booked online or by calling Box Office on 01604 624811.
The Made in Northampton season is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jewellers.
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