A Man of Good Hope (Isango Ensemble/Young Vic)

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Ben Brooker Friday, 08 March 2019
Published in ABR Arts

The Cape Town-based Isango Ensemble is known for its South African-flavoured reimaginings of works from the Western canon. While Adelaide Festival audiences thrill to Barrie Kosky’s Magic Flute, others may recall the Ensemble’s version, its setting translocated to a South African township, from the 2011 Melbourne Festival. By contrast, the music drama A Man of Good Hope draws on a contemporary source: white South African writer Jonny Steinberg’s 2015 book of the same name, a work of narrative non-fiction based on extensive interviews with Asad Abdullahi, a Somali refugee.

Directed by Mark Dornford-May and developed with London’s Young Vic – currently under the artistic directorship of Kwame Kwei-Armah, who has Grenadian and Ghanaian heritage – the play relates Asad’s coming of age as a refugee in flight from the Somali Civil War. Buffeted by violence but propelled by a keen entrepreneurialism, he winds up in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and finally Johannesburg, a perilous journey of almost 5,000 kilometres, seemingly beset at every turn by local militias, petty criminals, and corrupt officials.

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Published in ABR Arts
Ben Brooker

Ben Brooker

Ben Brooker is a writer, editor, critic, playwright, essayist, and bookseller. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Flinders University and an Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing from Adelaide College of the Arts. His work has been featured by Overland, New Matilda, New Internationalist, Australian Book Review, RealTime, The Lifted Brow, Witness, and Daily Review.

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