BAFTA Award-winning director Joe Wright and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui join forces again following Anna Karenina for the UK premiere of Aimé Césaire's A Season in the Congo, an epic retelling of a vibrant nation's turbulent first year of freedom. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Patrice Lumumba in his Young Vic debut.
Bursting with music and dance, this gripping drama charts the rise and fall of legendary leader Patrice Lumumba, whose passionate determination to free his people from Belgian rule inspired great courage and betrayal.
A Season in the Congo tells the true story of the 1960 Congo rebellion and assassination of the political leader Patrice Lumumba in three turbulent acts. After taking control of the newly-formed coalition government, the charismatic leader is immediately beset by resistance from European economic interests, American policymakers and long-simmering tribal divisions. Securing the assistance of a UN peacekeeping force only serves to further divide the Congolese people as Belgian arms and soldiers start to pour into the country. Stripped of his position and placed under house arrest, Lumumba attempts a final march to power but is fatally betrayed by a former ally. A Season in the Congo received its world premiere at the Venice Biennale in 1967 and now has its UK premiere at the Young Vic.
Aimé Césaire was a poet, playwright and politician from Martinique, who played a key role in the Négritude movement that originated in the 1930s amongst prominent literary figures in opposition to French colonial rule. His long autobiographical poem, Return to my Native Land, became a classic text of the movement aiming to restore the cultural identity of people of black African descent. A Season in the Congo, the second of Césaire's three epic plays of decolonisation, reflects his concern with the viability of the African independence movements of the early 1960s.
Joe Wright's stellar film credits include the six-time Oscar nominated Atonement which premiered at the 2007 Venice Film Festival; he was the youngest director to ever open this prestigious event. He received four Oscar nominations and won a BAFTA for Pride & Prejudice in 2005. His boldly theatrical adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina starring AaRon Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law and Keira Knightley was one of the biggest film openings of autumn 2012. His production of Arthur Wing Pinero's Trelawny of the Wells is currently playing at the Donmar Warehouse.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui received international acclaim for Sutra, an award-winning collaboration with Antony Gormley and Shaolin monks which has continued to tour since its world premiere in 2008. Cherkaoui's work is eclectic in subject as well as tone, and his output prolific. His early works - including Rien de Rien, Foi and Tempus Fugit - were made as a core member of the Belgian collective, Les Ballets C. de la B. but he also undertook parallel projects that expanded his artistic vision, one of which was the much-applauded zero degrees (2005) with friend and choreographer Akram Khan. Past works also include TeZukA, a piece inspired by the works of the master of Japanese manga, Osamu Tezuka; Dunas with flamenco artist María Pagés; and he received an Olivier Award in 2011 for Babel (Words) a collaboration with Antony Gormley and Damien Jalet, and the final installment of a triptych of Cherkaoui/Jalet works that also includes FOI and Myth. He is an Associate Artist at Sadler's Wells where he will open a new work Puz/zle in April 2013.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Patrice Lumumba in his Young Vic debut. He received an Olivier for his portrayal of Othello at the Donmar Warehouse in 2008, and a Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Award for his role in Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange at The National Theatre in 2000. Chiwetel has received three Golden Globe nominations for his work on screen. Film and TV audiences will have seen him last in Stephen Poliakoff's BBC drama Dancing on the Edge as well as in Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things, the dystopian sci-fi Children of Men and thriller Salt. He will star in Steve McQueen's hotly-anticipated film 12 Years a Slave, opening later this year.
Daniel Kaluuya plays Mokutu. He is currently appearing in Joe Wright's production of Trelawny of the Wells at the Donmar Warehouse. Past work in theatre includes Oxford Street and Roy Williams' Sucker Punch at the Royal Court (for which he won a Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Award). TV appearances include Channel 4 cult drama Skins, Black Mirror, Psychoville and Doctor Who.