LINDIWE Featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo Now In Rehearsals
The rehearsal room was electric as artists came together today for the first day of Lindiwe, Steppenwolf's highly anticipated world premiere production written by ensemble member Eric Simonson and featuring music written and performed by the five-time GRAMMY winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Directed by ensemble member Eric Simonson and Jonathan Berry, the life-affirming love story travels from Chicago's Kingston Mines to South Africa and beyond. Lindiwe marries the traditional South African sounds from the province of KwaZulu-Natal (also known as Zulu) with Chicago's iconic blues and features acclaimed musicians Frank Russell (bassist) and Buddy Fambro (guitarist) performing alongside Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Lindiwe's love story challenges us to define the boundaries between this world and the next, all the while exploring the sacrifices we make for love.
In the title role is South African stage and screen star Nondumiso Tembe (Avengers: Age of Ultron; True Blood) making her Chicago debut. Ensemble member Yasen Peyankov (Keeper), Jennifer Engstrom (Clarisse), Erik Hellman (Adam), and Cedric Young (Mkhulu) complete the cast.
Lindiwe begins November 7 (opening November 17 at 6pm; press performance November 19 at 7:30pm) and runs through January 5, 2020 in the Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St). Single tickets to Lindiwe ($20-$109) are available at 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. For the best seats and prices, Classic and Flex Memberships available: steppenwolf.org/membership.
Lindiwe marks the third collaboration between Steppenwolf and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The legendary South African a cappella group and Steppenwolf first partnered in 1992 for The Song of Jacob Zulu, which was also directed by Eric Simonson and transferred to Broadway receiving six Tony nominations. Actor Cedric Young who is featured in Lindiwe was part of the original Zulu cast. In 1996, Simonson, Steppenwolf and Mambazo teamed up again for the "beautiful and deeply moving" (Chicago Tribune) production of Nomathemba, which went on to The Kennedy Center. Simonson received an Oscar nomination for his 2000 documentary On Tiptoe: The Music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo about the group's global impact and message of love and peace.
"We are very excited to be working with Eric Simonson and Steppenwolf again. What we love about the creative people at Steppenwolf is that they understand our group and our rich history. They are able to connect their theatrical dreams with our culture and our country of South Africa. Lindiwe is exactly this-a connection between our two cultures, American and South African. We have been writing new songs and look forward to presenting them to the people of Chicago. Ngiyabonga (Thank You in Zulu)!," shares Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
"With the play set in South Africa and Chicago, I thought it would be fascinating to combine the iconic music of Mambazo with Chicago's iconic music, the blues. The result is incredible-Mambazo has a presence and a sound that hits you in the solar plexus, there is something deeply spiritual and timeless about them," shares writer and co-director Eric Simonson.
Lindiwe production team includes Collette Pollard (Scenic Design), Karin Kopischke (Costume Design), Marcus Doshi (Lighting Design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Sound Design), Gigi Buffington (Company Voice and Text Coach) and Mlondolozi Zondi (South African Cultural Consultant). Additional credits include Laura D. Glenn (Stage Manager), Jacky Saldana (Assistant Stage Manager), JC Clementz (Casting Director) and Hallie Gordon (Artistic Producer).