David Lan on Isango Ensemble

I was born in Cape Town. I know it as a city full of surprises. One of the biggest is the extraordinary, multi award-winning Isango Ensemble.

We co-produced two shows with them in 2007 – A Christmas Carol and The Magic Flute which went on to play in the West End (it won an Olivier Award), in Paris (it won a major best musical award there too) and then in major theatres all over the world.

A Christmas Carol (2007), photo by Keith Pattison

Since then Isango have never stopped, playing to sold out houses and winning thousands of new friends, admirers and supporters.

The Magic Flute (2007), photo by Keith Pattison

In May, this terrific company return to London, this time to the Hackney Empire, with three remarkable new musical shows, none of them seen in London before: La Bohème, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Aesop’s Fables.

A number of us who love their work – including Ian McKellen, Simon Rattle and Stephen Daldry – are proud to be members of Isango’s International Council. I have no doubt you will have a terrific time at each – or all! – of their new shows.

Isango draws the majority of its artists from what used to be called the ‘townships’ – the exclusively black suburbs – of South Africa. Their re-imaginings of classic tales within their own musical and theatrical language are at once moving and celebratory.

The Magic Flute (2007), photo by Keith Pattison

Their two shows with us sold out with speed. I wouldn’t risk waiting around this time either.

To find out more about Isango Ensemble, see here.

For show information and to book tickets for their upcoming shows at Hackney Empire, see here.

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