Full cast for Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s TREE announced

We’re thrilled to announce the full cast for Tree, which will receive its world premiere this July at Manchester International Festival, before transferring to the Young Vic in London.

Created by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, this new collaboration is an electrifying 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 an exhilarating 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.

It’s just 12 hours from London to his parents’ homeland, but to Kaleo (Alfred Enoch), South Africa is another world. A family tragedy finally forces him to visit for the first time – and as he takes his journey of healing, Kaleo must confront hidden histories and right the wrongs of the past. But first he must face the present: a shattered family, fighting to hold on to what they believe is theirs, in a nation haunted by the ghosts of its own turbulent past.

“I feel genuinely privileged to be working with this incredible group of actors, dancers and musicians to bring to life our shared vision for Tree, inspired by Idris’s intoxicating Mi Mandela album. 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.” Kwame Kwei-Armah, Director

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). Film and TV includes: Merlin; Rugby Road; Tainted Heart; Finishing School; Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

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). Television includes: A Very English Scandal; Doc Martin; Siblings.

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) – Olivier Award nomination and Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play); 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. Film includes: Queen & Country (IFTA Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role); The Sea (Winner of the IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role); Eliza Graves; Wrath of the Titans; Eastern Promises; Cracks; V for Vendetta; Tiger’s Tail (IFTA Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role); Mathilde; I Capture the Castle; Bad Behaviour; Dream; My Mother Frank; Passion In Mind; Stealing Beauty; The Clement Garden; The Nephew; Waterland; Venus Peter. Television includes: MotherFatherSon; Moving On; Call the Midwife; Marcella; A Room With A View; Poirot; Midsomer Murders and North & South.

Kurt Egyiawan graduated from Guildhall in 2011. He won the Spotlight Prize in 2010 and was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award for the best classical stage performance by an actor under 30. 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). Film Credits Include: Beasts of No Nation; Pan; Kill Your Friends and Skyfall.

Alfred Enoch’s theatre work includes Red, at the Wyndham’s Theatre alongside Alfred Molina, King Lear (as Edgar), directed by Michael Buffong; Coriolanus (as Titus), directed by Josie Rourke; Timon of Athens (as Philotus), directed by Nicholas Hytner; Antigone (Chorus) directed by Polly Findlay; Happy New (as Danny) directed by Robert Shaw; Dinner (as Mike) directed by Anna Fax; The Ballad Of Salomon Pavey (as Kit) directed by Jeremy Taylor. He is also known for his recurring role as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film series. Enoch’s work in television includes Michael Offer’s How To Get Away With Murder; and Sherlock, directed by Colm McCarthy. Alfred is currently starring in hit BBC show Trust Me’s second season.

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). Television credits include: Enterprice (BBC/ Fudge Park Productions); Black Earth Rising (BBC/Netflix); New Blood (BBC/Netflix); Yonderland (Working Title /Sky 1). Film includes: Denial; The Dead Sea; Words; Show Dogs.

Anthony Matsena was born in Bulaway, Zimbabwe and grew up in Swansea. He is a Sadler’s Wells young associate and the Co-Founder, Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer of Matsena Performance Theatre alongside his brother Amukelani. The company creates work that draws upon highly physical movement, theatre work and text. He graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2018. 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. Anthony’s work has been shown at prestigious venues Sadler’s Wells, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The Place and The Bunker.

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; Tavaziva Dance; BBC; Blue Pete; and many more.

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). Film credits include: Turn up Charlie; Spectre; Monochrome; Son of God; Albert Schweitzer; Highlander; the Source. Television includes: Nina and the Neutrons; Tinga Tinga Tales; Casualty; Torchwood; Silent Witness.

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 U.K and International companies such as Cape Town City Ballet; New Adventures; Rambert; Company Wayne McGregor; Alesandra Seutin Vocab Dance; Ballet Black and Tavaziva. He has created own works including launching his company N’da Dance Company’s ‘NaY Triple Bill’; Cape Town City Ballet; ADAD’s Bloom Festival; English National Ballet School; Rambert’s new choreographic seasons; Cloud Dance Festival; The Print Room and Horniman Museum. His work has been presented at Richmix; Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis; Queen Elizabeth Hall and ROH Linbury Studio Theatre.

Andile Sotiya is a South African born dancer, teacher and choreographer. As a teacher he has taught extensively around the UK and in South Africa leading classes, workshops and residencies. He has taught company classes for the likes of DV8 and Disney’s The Lion King. He was the rehearsal director with Ace Dance and Music for their TEN production and tour 2016/17. In 2002 and in 2006/7 he toured with Kylie Minogue’s Fever World Tour and Showgirl Home Coming Tour. He has also worked with her on various other projects including MTV European Awards in Edinburgh, Top of the Pops, CDUK and a tour of America amongst others.

Creative Team
Created by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah
Director: Kwame Kwei-Armah
Set & Costume Designer: Jon Bausor
Choreography: Gregory Maqoma
Lighting Designer: Jon Clark
Sound Designer: Paul Arditti
Video Designer: Duncan McLean
Music Supervisor/Composer: Michael Asante
Dramaturg Mongiwekhaya
Casting Director: Pippa Ailion CDG
Associate Director: Paul Morris

Photos: Mark Brenner

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