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Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba to collaborate on Manchester International Festival show

Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: David Sandison
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Kwame Kwei-Armah is to collaborate with Idris Elba on a new multi-genre production inspired by South Africa for next year’s Manchester International Festival.

The piece, called Tree, will combine music, dance and film, and will explore the past, present and future of South Africa through the eyes of one man.

Elba’s recent album Mi Mandela will provide the soundtrack for the production, which takes place in the round at Upper Campfield Market Hall, a former covered market in central Manchester.

Elba said he and Kwei-Armah had wanted to work together for several years.

He said: “Our joint ambition [was] to make a piece of work inspired by South Africa, using the album Mi Mandela as a starting point. We’ve both experienced personal moments of healing connected with the country and we’re starting to explore that together.

“To be able to investigate that with Kwame, a writer with such tremendous vision for whom I have great respect and love, and within the artistic community of MIF, is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.”

It is one of the first commissions announced for the 2019 Manchester International Festival, alongside an opening event created by Yoko Ono and an immersive experience by musician and producer Skepta.

The Mercury Prize-winning artist will play a live set as part of Dytopia987, which will be held in a secret location and will feature recorded and live performances from a series of DJs.

MIF runs from July 4 to 21, 2019.

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