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Photo Credit: David Sandison

Manchester International Festival (MIF), the Young Vic and Green Door Pictures today 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.

Director Kwame Kwei-Armah said: “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.”

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 Friendsand 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.


Co-creator of Tree, Golden Globe and SAG winning Idris Elba captivates audiences as an actor, producer, director and musician. He is the first actor to receive dual SAG awards in one evening. After playing significant roles on the small screen in some of the UK’s top-rated shows, Idris landed the role of Stringer Bell in HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire (NAACP Image Award nomination). In 2010, Elba appeared as the title character on the BBC mini-series Luther, which earned him a Golden Globe, SAG Award and four Emmy nominations. The series returns in 2019 for its fifth season.  His film credits include American Gangster (Golden Globe nomination), Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom (Golden Globe nomination); Beasts of No Nation (SAG award, Golden Globe nomination); The Mountain Between Us; Avengers; and the Oscar-nominated film Molly’s Game.  Behind the camera, Elba made his feature film directorial debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival with Yardie. In 2013, Elba founded his production company, Green Door Pictures to champion diversity of thought. With Green Door, Elba released the documentary Mandela, My Dad and Me, produced the TV mini-series Guerrilla for Showtime and created, produced and appears in the Sky comedy series In the Long Run. He also created, produces and stars in the new Netflix comedy series Turn Up Charlie, which premiered in March 2019.  Next up, Elba will star in Universal’s Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw as well as the movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical Cats. In 2018, Elba was named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Kwame Kwei-Armah is Artistic Director of the Young Vic. He was previously the Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage where he directed: Jazz, Marley, One Night in Miami, Amadeus, Dance of the Holy Ghosts, The Mountaintop, An Enemy of the People, The Whipping Man and Things of Dry Hours. Other work as a director includes: Twelfth Night, Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Detroit’67(Public Theatre, New York); The Liquid Plain (Signature Theatre, New York and Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Porgy and Bess (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) the Olivier Nominated One Night in Miami for Best New Play 2016 (Donmar Warehouse) and One Love (Birmingham Repertory Theatre).  As a playwright his credits include One Love (Birmingham Repertory Theatre); Beneatha’s Place (Baltimore Center Stage); Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, Statement of Regret (National Theatre); Let There Be Love and Seize the Day (Tricycle Theatre). Kwame was Artistic Director for the Festival of Black Arts and Culture, Senegal, in 2010. He conceived and directed the opening ceremony at Senghor National stadium. He was an Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse and has served on the boards of the National Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, and Theatre Communications Group. Kwame was the Chancellor of the University of the Arts London from 2010 to 2015, and in 2012 was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 Kwame was named Best Director in City Paper’s Best of Baltimore Awards and in 2015 was nominated for the prestigious Stage Directors and Choreographers Zelda Fichandler Award for Best Regional Artistic Director. In 2016 he was awarded the Urban Visionary Award alongside House Representative Elijah Cummings by the Center for Urban Families for his work in the Baltimore community.

A Manchester International Festival, Young Vic and Green Door Pictures co-production. In association with Eleanor Lloyd Productions, Bob Benton for Anthology Theatre, Eilene Davidson and Dawn Smalberg for Ragovoy Entertainment.

Young Vic
29 Jul 2019 – 24 Aug 2019, 7.30pm (Previews (29 – 31 July)
Wednesday & Saturday Matinees: 2.30pm
Press night 1 August 7pm

Book tickets
Tickets from £10



About MIF

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events, staged every two years in Manchester, UK. MIF launched in 2007 as an artist-led festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. The next Festival takes place from 4 – 21 July 2019.

MIF has commissioned, produced and presented world premieres by artists including Marina Abramović, Damon Albarn, Björk, Boris Charmatz, Jeremy Deller, Elbow, Wayne McGregor, Steve McQueen, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Thomas Ostermeier, Maxine Peake, Punchdrunk, The xx, Robert Wilson and Zaha Hadid Architects.

MIF brings together world-renowned artists from different art forms and backgrounds to create dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking new work, staged in venues across Greater Manchester – from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks. MIF works closely with venues, festivals and other cultural organisations globally, whose financial and creative input helps to make many of these projects possible and ensures that work made at MIF goes on to be seen around the world.

MIF’s year-round Creative Community programme also works widely within Manchester with a community of creative people from all backgrounds, ages and corners of the city who are forging closer connections with the Festival.

MIF’s Artistic Director and CEO is John McGrath. MIF will also be the operator for The Factory, a new world-class cultural space being developed in Manchester, which will commission, present and produce new work from for the world’s greatest artists, offering a space to make, explore and experiment.

MIF is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee.

Green Door Pictures
Idris Elba founded Green Door Pictures in 2013 with the mission of developing new and established talent to champion inclusion as well as diversity of thought and ideas. The slate covers Scripted and Non-Scripted Television, Film and Digital content. 

Recent credits include the Sky One comedy ‘In The Long Run’, created by and featuring Idris Elba as part of an ensemble cast including Bill Bailey, in co-production with Sprout Pictures.   It received a Broadcast Digital Award for Best Comedy Programme.   Credits also include Netflix Comedy series ‘Turn Up Charlie’, a co-production with Brown Eyed Boy, co-created and starring Idris Elba with the title track ‘Luv’ co-created by him also.

Green Door also produced short-form drama series ‘5×5’ in collaboration with BBC Studios as part of ‘The Idris Takeover’, a week long takeover of online channel BBC3 and executive produced ‘Guerrilla’ written by John Ridley in collaboration with Fifty Fathoms Productions, ABC Signature, Sky and Showtime.  Production is underway on a new series of ‘In The Long Run’.

Young Vic
Based on The Cut in London’s Waterloo, we produce new plays, classics, musicals, adaptations of books, short films, digital projects and game changing forms of theatre. We attract large audiences from many different backgrounds, and forge deep connections in our neighbourhood where we provide extensive free activities. For many years the Young Vic has been synonymous with inclusivity, accessibility and creativity. We foster emerging talent and collaborate with some of the world’s finest directors, performers and creatives; creating productions that say much about the world we live in.

Artistic Director:              Kwame Kwei-Armah
Executive Director:          Despina Tsatsas

Twitter and Instagram @youngvictheatre

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