We are Isango Ensemble.
Based in Cape Town, since 2000 we’ve been built through working with disadvantaged young people many of whom have had no formal training. Whilst being intrinsically interwoven in South Africa we’ve created large scale work which reaches broad audiences throughout the world. We have proved that by being truly national one can become international regardless of the hurdles of language or the barriers of culture. The African concept of “Ubuntu” sums our work up - only by understanding you are human can we be human.
We have established ourself as a vehicle to give one of the most deprived parts of the world a voice through the medium of theatre of the highest quality which is absolutely and intrinsically South African. Often played in more than one language with a strong music content our productions have had long runs at London’s Young Vic and Hackney Empire and had three West End seasons as well as touring to the USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and most of Europe. The productions have ranged from Grand Opera and Shakespeare, to hard hitting new plays, but the commonality is that all the work is seen as a vehicle by which we can address some of the issues that confront us through the medium of theatre. We have told these stories to help us understand the region we live in and through our touring build a diversity of comprehension and a common humanity. Society in all its forms is our broad target audience. Our home audience is one of the most diverse in South Africa and we are one of the few theatre companies in the world with an equal mix of male and female actors. The African concept of “Ubuntu” sums our work up - only by understanding you are human can we be human.
The legacy of South Africa’s past has led to enormous gulfs in the world of education and we strive to bridge this divide. Due to our position and location, we provide a training and educational facility for both staff and community alongside our production work. Our work with young people has brought a sense of belief, aspiration and knowledge into the townships. It has done this by enabling them to transcend the limits of their environment and yet remain proud of their culture and their heritage.
The reality of life for many in South Africa is tough and for some of them a genuinely fragile existence. However, we never appeal to our audience as victims based on the performers’ backstories but as equals, we are proud of our work and the community we represent.
"I WAS CAPTIVATED FROM MY FIRST ENCOUNTER..." Andy Harries