Tony and Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones and rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beauty and the Beast, Belle) have joined the cast of the U.S. premiere of The Children's Monologues. The creative arts charity Dramatic Need is collaborating with Carnegie Hall to present the show November 13 at 7:30 PM.
Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle will bring together an all-star cast for the benefit—including the previously announced Tony winners Audra McDonald and Daveed Diggs, Sienna Miller, Charlize Theron, Trevor Noah, James McAvoy, Daniel Kaluuya, Susan Sarandon, Ewan McGregor, and current Hamilton star Javier Muñoz—to tell the stories of children growing up in Rammulotsi, a rural township in the Free State province of South Africa.
Monologues, which recounts the stories of young people expressing personal experiences in their own words, is adapted by Lynn Nottage, Neil LaBute, David Hare, Tom Stoppard, Jack Thorne, and Laura Wade.
The Children’s Monologues comes to New York City following two successful productions in London in recent years, both directed by Boyle. As with the London productions, the New York event will incorporate elements of music, dance, and the visual arts. It will open with Via Vyndal, young dancers selected by Boyle, who will travel from South Africa to perform pantsula, a form of street dance that originated in the Johannesburg region during the Apartheid era.
The performance will also feature teens from across New York City invited by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music. Contributing to the visual design on the Carnegie Hall stage will be Abe Odedina (England), Tschabalala Self (United States), and Lady Skollie (South Africa).
Attendees can also expect musical performances by Grammy-winning vocalist and double bassist Esperanza Spalding and British rapper Little Simz.
In an earlier statement, Boyle said, “These stories capture some extraordinary moments in the lives of these kids. There is something so powerful about their words—the simple humanity of them—that creates an intimate connection between each actor and the audience, across thousands of miles, across continents, race, age, income, and gender. The effect is to transport all of us in the theater to the townships and into these children’s shoes. It is exactly what great theater should do: move you to see something so far away from your own experience as if it’s right up close.”
Amber Sainsbury, Dramatic Need’s founder and producer of The Children’s Monologues, added, “The ability to create, to express what you are going through, is a vital part of the human condition. For many of the children that Dramatic Need works with, there’s no recourse to self-expression except through violence or cycles of abuse and conflict from which it is difficult to escape. By helping kids in these remote areas access the arts, we invite them to tell their story and to be listened to. Through storytelling, they learn to express themselves, cope with difficult experiences, and empathize with others.”
Similar to Dramatic Need productions in previous years, the monologues will also be performed in South Africa November 13, presented at the Market Theater in Johannesburg featuring an all-female cast of acclaimed actors from across the African continent as well as by children onstage in their local township in rural South Africa.
Tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, by (212) 247-7800, or online at CarnegieHall.org. A limited number of discounted tickets will be made available to the general public on the day of the November 13 performance.
(Updated October 25, 2017)