From NewYork to Nairobi, Award-winning Kenyan play "A man like you" tours Africa

Gerald Langiri
April 21 / 2017

The award-winning Kenyan play 'A Man Like You', which was nominated for 7 awards at last year's Sanaa Theatre Awards, winning Best Actor and Best Tragedy, is now to tour Africa, following its Nairobi premieres last year, and threeweekJuly runoff Broadway in New York.The tour, which opens in Nairobi then moves to Zimbabwe and South Africa, taking Kenyan theatre to some of the highest profile arts events in southern Africa.

'A Man Like You' will be performed at the Braeburn Theatre on 2nd and 3rd May for ksh 2,500, and will then go to the Harare International Festival of Arts from 6th to 7th of May, closing in Cape Town on10th and 11th of May.

The play will be directed by writer Silvia Cassini whose tale of two idealistic headstrong men; Patrick North, British diplomat and hostage, and his Somali kidnapper Abdi has them defending their world-views in an intense exposé of extremism, politics and religion.

The windowless concrete room in Somalia where North is imprisoned is the setting for the poignant and thought-provoking conversations he has with his captor Abdi, which raises questions about the nature of radicalisation, the flaws of differing cultures, and the similarities between them, as people.

The cell scene is intercut with a scene in North's home in Nairobi, where his wife Elizabeth fights for her husband’s freedom whilst she deals with his absence and the reality that he may never return.

New York critic Thomas Scully wrote about the play: "The whole affair is gritty, honest and un-sensational in the best possible way. This play is not torture-porn, a plastic manufactured white-guilt play; so often these are the traps with these works, to make a thing brutal and violent with no regard for reality. ‘A Man Like You’ avoids these pitfalls. Cassini’s writing instead speaks extensively to cultural misunderstanding and the parallels of entrapment between privileged and unprivileged cultures. Neither Abdi, nor North, is outright villainized or deified, but are instead presented as individuals; people who under the circumstances presented to them became the creatures they are. Their interactions and understandings within misunderstandings and vice versa have to be seen to be fully understood. Suffice to say, the play speaks to honest, common humanity, without painting over either side’s atrocity."

For this third production of 'A Man Like You', Cassini's cast will again include theatre stalwarts Mike Kudakwashe as Abdi, and Davina Leonard as Elizabeth, both prominent actors on the Kenyan stage, as well as Kevin Amwoma, who will reprise his role as the sinister Hassan. There is a key change in the lead, however, with Cassini having, for this latest run, cast internationally renowned Zimbabwean actor Kevin Hanssen as Patrick North.

The staging of the play for its new tour will, however, be completely different from the original, giving it a new look and a totally fresh feel. "Each new production of this play should be a clean experience, not just for the audience but for everyone involved. I have no interest in doing the same thing twice; change is what keeps us relevant and growing," said Silvia Cassini.

The play speaks to issues that are now fueling the world’s most prominent debates, across cultural stereotypes and national identity, and through being set in Somalia, making Cassini's message of increasing significance, and the timing of the play’s continental tour extremely pertinent.

For more information: and advance booking contact: Silvia Cassini: silvcassini@gmail. com/ Mobile: +254 723 433747

A man like you africa tour 2017

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