September 3, 2019 | Theatre, Race and Equity,
Isango Ensemble’s Joyful Reimaginings
We all are familiar with titles like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, and even The Magic Flute. While we might not be able to recite the plot word for word, these are at least productions we’ve heard of throughout our lives. Penned by the likes of Shakespeare and Mozart, these canonical works are landmarks for theatre history and remain pinnacle productions today.
Isango Ensemble has continued the tradition of these great works, but with new meaning by bringing their culture and history as South Africans to each performance. The ensemble is comprised of artists primarily from townships surrounding Cape Town, melding their personal stories with seminal works from theatre and opera canon. The immense joy Isango amplifies is intentionally known to be an infectious spell of music, art, and culture. Sir Ian McKellen, an avid patron, perhaps said it best — “The Isango Ensemble is unique. I believe no other theatre group in the world so successfully brings old theatre classics into a modern, wholly African expression.”
These miraculous performers return to ArtsEmerson this fall with The Magic Flute (NOV 6-10) where Mozart’s seminal composition becomes a celebration of both classical music and South African culture. The piece, originally written for a traditionally western instruments, is uplifted through Mandisi Dyantyis’ score, transposed for an orchestra of marimbas and oil drums full of exuberance.
While Isango Ensmeble wonderfully melds musical styles, they also bring their personal histories to these works. As South Africans, they are acutely aware of apartheid and purposefully create pieces that a reunified and diverse South Africa. Audience members from a variety of backgrounds come together to collectively celebrate, witness, and even dance to the beauty of Isango Ensemble’s productions. The Magic Flute is no exception, providing an operatic experience unlike any other.
There are several reasons we wanted to bring Isango Ensemble back to ArtsEmerson for our 10th Anniversary Season, but their mission of reunification and collective glee stands out and aligns perfectly with our own mission, to cultivate diversity in the arts and spark conversation with social change. To see across difference to create unity.
Join us in welcoming back Isango Ensemble with The Magic Flute NOV 6-10 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre as we revel in the joy of life, music, and spectacular storytelling.