Posts Tagged ‘Marcus Gardley’


Lucian Msamati talks about Toof, Iago and the RSC

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 by Tricycle

Lucian Msamati stars as Archbishop Tardimus Toof in our current World Premiere production of Marcus Gardley’s A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes, before which he made headlines with an ‘outstanding’ performance (The Guardian) as the first Black actor to play Othello’s nemesis Iago at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Left to right: Michelle Bonnard, Ayesha Antoine, Lucian Msamati, Wil Johnson and Karl Queensborough. Photo: Mark Douet

We spoke to Lucian about his time at the RSC, and how he made the transition from playing the villain in a Shakespeare tragedy to playing a villain in an adapted Molière comedy. This is what he had to say…

What is it like working at the RSC? This is, in all honesty a very frustrating question to try and answer — and that is not to pooh-pooh the question! — it’s frustrating because I don’t know whether there is ever a satisfying or insightful way to put another at the heart of that experience. It would be like me asking Cristiano Ronaldo, ‘What’s it like playing for Real Madrid?’ What does he say, ‘It’s cool!’ ‘It’s fantastic!’. It is not as if those answers are ‘wrong’. But for me? Not entirely satisfactory (And just to be clear, I am not comparing myself to Ronaldo; we are the same height and that’s it.) For one thing this is my job as well as my passion so I don’t ‘change’ or ‘adapt’ who I am or what I do to suit the company I happen to be employed by at any given time. On the other hand, of course there is obvious excitement when you’re playing for one of the ‘Big Un’s’. But when it comes down to it? The really noticeable and notable contrast is always practical. The bigger companies seem to have more of the two things most of us perhaps crave: time and money. There is a certain security in that; there is a big difference in having four weeks to mount a production and having twelve weeks; a massive difference. But it doesn’t lessen the pressure! It is the difference between reading a book by a renowned scholar and being able to fly the author over to speak to you in person. That is fantastic! And cool! But either way you still have to get down and do the work: rehearse, learn lines, adapt, absorb, finesse, create and repeat.

Transitioning from ‘Iago’ to ‘Toof’ was quite straightforward. I was incredibly privileged and proud to have had a director and fellow cast at the RSC full of trust, respect, intelligence, fun, grit and camaraderie. It made it easier to shake off the darkness and intensity of that particular character. I have been blessed to walk into a very similar situation with ‘Wolf’: many fine folk that I have had the privilege of playing alongside before. Other than Karl, I have worked with everyone else before; that really is a blessing to be treasured and allows us all to take the material much further.

But actually? Iago and Toof are not that dissimilar: they’re both frustrated by their position in life; they both feel they’re worth much, much more; they both have marital issues; they’re both witty, insightful and resourceful but turn their ire in the wrong direction; they both see the audience as their confidante/accomplice. But the biggest split (other than the fact that Iago is very good at killing his way through certain problems) for me is that when faced with their moment of reckoning, Toof confesses his full, dark and ugly truth to the world. Does it absolve him? Not necessarily. But we perhaps understand his motivation a tiny bit more. But in the same moment, in a parallel universe, Iago keeps quiet; we see and perceive glimpses of what that mania is, but in the end, it is possible to understand why people don’t entirely ‘get’ him. Maybe they ought to share a cell — but not in my head, thank you very much!

A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes by Marcus Gardley is on stage at the Tricycle Theatre until Saturday 14 November. Book your ticket today!


CAST ANNOUNCED! Sharon D. Clarke and Lucian Msamati to star in A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 by Tricycle

Lucian Msamati stars as Archbishop Tardimus Toof

Sharon D. Clarke plays Lady Toof

Tricycle Theatre Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham today announces the full cast for the world première of A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, by multi-award winning American playwright Marcus Gardley. Sharon D. Clarke and Lucian Msamati lead the company which also includes Adjoa Andoh, Ayesha Antoine, Michelle Bonnard, Wil Johnson, Karl Queensborough and Angela Wynter in the production which opens on 14 October, with previews from 8 October, and runs until 14 November.

This fresh adaptation of Molière’s Tartuffe is a wicked new comedy set in a world of millionaires and mega-churches that rocks the foundations of trust, faith and redemption. It follows Rubasingham’s critically-acclaimed production of Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand in 2014.

Given just days to live, multi-millionaire Archibald Organdy rejects costly experimental treatment and opts to face his end surrounded by his loving family. His fate sealed, Archibald awaits his day of reckoning. However things could be about to change.

Arriving in Atlanta from the deep, deep South, flamboyant Archbishop Tardimus Toof, a prophet, preacher and part-time masseur promises to absolve Archibald’s sins and heal his disease. But his family suspect there’s more to this devout healer than faith, virtue and snakeskin shoes…

Marcus Gardley was awarded the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright. His work for the stage includes The House That Will Not Stand (winner of 2014 Glickman Award), Every Tongue Confess, On The Levee, And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, (L)imitations of Life, like sun fallin’ in the mouth, Black Odyssey, The Road Weeps, the Well Runs, This World in a Women’s Hands, Love Is A Dream House in Lorin, dance of the holy ghosts. He is the recipient of the 2013 Mellon Playwright Residency, the 2011 Aetna New Voice Fellowship at Hartford Stage, the Helen Merrill Award, a Kesselring Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship, and the ASCAP Cole Porter Award.

Adjoa Andoh plays Peaches. She has previously performed in Starstruck at the Tricycle. Her other theatre credits include Great Expectations (Bristol Old Vic), Tamburlaine, The Odyssey (RSC), The Dispute (RSC/ Lyric Hammersmith), Julius Caesar (RSC, West End & New York), Or You Could Kiss Me, The Revenger’s Tragedy, His Dark Materials, Stuff Happens (National Theatre), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, In The Red And Brown Water, The Snow Queen (Young Vic), Purgatorio (Arcola Theatre), Sugar Mummies, Breath Boom (Royal Court Theatre), Nights At The Circus, Pericles (Lyric Hammersmith), Blood Wedding (Almeida Theatre), Death Catches The Hunter (Traverse), Love At A Loss (national tour) and Cloud Nine (Contact). Her recent work for television includes Line Of Duty, New Tricks, River, Cucumber, Brian Pern: Death of Rock, Broadchurch(Series 2), Doctor Who, Chasing Shadows, Law & Order, Missing, MI-High, The Shadow in the North; and for film, Remainder, Julius Caesar, Invictus and Adulthood.

Ayesha Antoine plays Afreeka Organdy. For the Tricycle she has appeared in The House That Will Not Stand. Her other theatre work includes The Ghost Train (Royal Exchange/Told By An Idiot), We Are Proud to Present…(Bush Theatre), Tartuffe (Birmingham REP), Absurd Person Singular, My Wonderful Day, Surprises (Stephen Joseph Theatre/ 59E59), One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (Sheffield Crucible/Eclipse Theatre Company tour), Carrot (Theatre503), The Mountaintop (Derby Playhouse), Blue/Orange (Tiata Fahodzi/ Arcola), Madblud, Family Man, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Big White Fog (Almeida) and The Firework Maker’s Daughter (Lyric Hammersmith/Told By An Idiot tour). For television her work includes Doctor Who, Holby City, Pompidou, Bellamy’s People, Mongrels, Mouth to Mouth, Grange Hill.

Michelle Bonnard plays Maxine. For theatre her work includes Beasts And Beauties (Hampstead Theatre), On The Record (Arcola Theatre), Europe (Barbican), Epic and Hygiene Hypothesis (Theatre 503), The Mirror for Princes (Barbican/World Tour) and Macbeth (Out of Joint). Her television work includes Blackout, The Fear, Law & Order UK, Hustle, Margot, Apparitions, Waking the Dead, Silent Witness, Saddam’s Tribe and Five Days.

Sharon D Clarke plays Lady Toof. Her theatre credits include We Will Rock You, Once On This Island, Chicago, The Lion King, Rent, Mama I Want to Sing, Hairspray and Ghost (all West End), Everyman (National Theatre), Romeo + Juliet (Rose Theatre Kingston), Porgy & Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Amen Corner (Olivier Award Best Supporting Actress), Fame, on tour in Sweden & Norway, Guys And Dolls (National Theatre), Cinderella, Mother Goose, Puss In Boots, Once On This Island and Blues In The Night (Hackney Empire), Lift Off  (Curve Leicester), Medea (Theatr Clwyd and The Young Vic), A Taste Of Honey (Royal Exchange, Manchester). Her television work includes Holby City (series regular), Death In Paradise, You Me & Them, Psychobitches, Tree-Fu Tom, Where’s Boo, and The Singing Detective; and for film, Sugarhouse, Secret Society and Beautiful People.

Wil Johnson plays Organdy. His theatre work includes Fuenteovejuna (National Theatre), Redundant (Royal Court Theatre), A Mad World My Masters (Shakespeare’s Globe), Serious Money (Birmingham REP), The Queen and I (Out Of Joint), Torn (Arcola Theatre) and Othello (Royal Lyceum). His television work includes Waking the Dead, Clocking Off, Moving On, Cracker; and for film, Adulthood, Anuvahood, Dead End and Macbeth.

Lucian Msamati returns to the Tricycle to play Toof. He has previously appeared in Walk Hard, Fabulation and Gem of the Ocean at the Tricycle Theatre. His other theatre work includes Othello, Pericles (RSC), Little Revolution, Ruined, I.D (Almeida Theatre), The Amen Corner, The Comedy of Errors, Death and the King’s Horseman, The Overwhelming, President of an Empty Room, Mourning Becomes Electra, NT50 (National Theatre), If You Don’t Let Us Dream We Won’t Let You Sleep, Belong (Tiata Fahodzi and Royal Court Theatre), Clybourne Park (Royal Court Theatre / West End), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Lyric Hammersmith), 1807 – The First Act (Shakespeare’s Globe), Who Killed Mr Drum? (Riverside), Twelfth Night (Over the Edge/Crucible Theatre). For television his work includes The Hollow Crown: Richard II, George Gently, Luther, Game of Thrones, Death in Paradise, No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Ashes To Ashes. For film his work includes The International and The Legend of the Sky Kingdom. Msamati is also a former Artistic Director of Tiata Fahodzi Theatre company and founder member of Zimbabwe’s acclaimed Over the Edge Theatre Company. For Tiata Fahodzi he directed The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrior and his sexy wife Chipo and The Legend of Hamba. His other directing work includes The Taming of the Shrew (Over the Edge, Zimbabwe/ Bath Shakespeare Festival) and as a writer his plays include Born African and Zuva Crumbling: Memory Play.

Karl Queensborough plays Gumper. His theatre work includes Morning (Lyric Hammersmith / The Traverse Theatre), Dayglo, Mind The Gap (Y Touring Theatre Company), Ignition (Frantic Assembly), Depth Charge (Gecko), and The first thing that ever ever happened (Peepolykus).

Angela Wynter plays Mother Organdy. Her theatre work includes Boi Boi is Dead (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Watford Palace), Voices From The Black I Am (National Theatre of Scotland), The Amen Corner (National Theatre), Simply Heavenly (Young Vic), One Love (Bristol Old Vic/Hammersmith Lyric), The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre, West End & Australia), Back Pay (Royal Court Theatre), Zebra Crossing II, Medea in the MirrorMaskarade (Talawa Theatre), and Ticket To Write, Jar The Floor (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Her television work includes Holby City and EastEnders and Cutting It (all series regulars).

Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre, directs. For the company, her work includes Multitudes, The House That Will Not Stand, Handbagged (also Vaudeville Theatre – Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre and forthcoming national tour), Red Velvet (also New York – Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Award), Paper Dolls, Women, Power And Politics, Stones In His Pockets, Detaining Justice, The Great Game: Afghanistan, Fabulation, and Starstruck. Her other theatre work includes The Motherf**ker With the Hat, The Waiting Room (National Theatre), Belong, Disconnect, Free Outgoing, Lift Off, Clubland, The Crutch, Sugar Mummies (Royal Court), Ruined (Almeida Theatre), Yellowman, Anna In The Tropics (Hampstead Theatre), The Ramayana (National Theatre/ Birmingham Rep), and Secret Rapture, The Misanthrope, Romeo and Juliet (Chichester Festival Theatre). In 2012 Rubasingham was awarded the Arts & Culture Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards for ‘astounding achievements in theatre’. She also received the Carlton Multi-Cultural Achievement Award for Performing Arts and in 2010 she jointly received the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award for The Great Game: Afghanistan.

Directed by Indhu Rubasingham; Designed by Tom Piper; Lighting Design by Paul Anderson; Sound Designer: David McSeveney; Musical Director: Nigel Lilley; Composers: Ben & Max Ringham Arrangements: Nigel Lilley, Ben & Max Ringham; Movement Director Coral Messam.

For more information and to book, please click here.


Top to bottom, left to right: Adjoa Andoh, Ayesha Antoine, Michelle Bonnard, Sharon D. Clarke, Wil Johnson, Lucian Msamati, Karl Queensborough, Angela Wynter.


Who Was Henriette DeLille?

Friday, November 7th, 2014 by Tricycle

Actress Danusia Samal playing Maude Lynn in The House That Will Not Stand

Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand features a cast of seven women and one mysterious man. Throughout the play, audiences see the individual characters develop to tell us a story of desire, jealousy, murder and voodoo. Gardley based his female characters, who are all very different from one another, both on women from his own life and on famous female figures from historical time periods.

One of Gardley’s characters, Maude Lynn (portrayed at the Tricycle by Danusia Samal), who is one of the daughters of the matriarchal Creole Beartrice and her white partner Lazare, is inspired by famous Louisiana nun, Henriette DeLille.

DeLille was born in 1813 and lived until 1862, right through the time period in which The House That Will Not Stand is set. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, DeLille was brought up, like Gardley’s Albans family, as a Creole ‘free woman of color’, with French, Spanish, Italian and African ancestry. Her mother was a Placée, meaning that she, as a ‘free woman of color’, was contracted into a common law union with a white European man, in which she was his legal mistress and therefore obtained social, legal and financial status within the community. The Plaçage system was incredibly popular within New Orleans Culture during this time and a young Henriette DeLille was groomed to take her own place within the system.

With training from her mother in French Literature, Music, Dancing and Nursing, DeLille’s path into the Plaçage system, typical of girls of a similar upbringing, looked set. However, at the age of fourteen, a well educated and devoutly Catholic Henriette began teaching at a local Catholic school. Her experience of teaching allowed her to develop a devotion to caring for and educating children and the poor. Young DeLille developed a differing opinion on the Plaçage system that proved to be a great source of conflict between her and her mother. Despite the great wealth that DeLille had seen her mother live in, and that she herself had grown up in thanks to the union between her parents, her views on the system were that these extra-marital relationships violated the Catholic sacrament of marriage.

The House That Will Not Stand at The Tricycle Theatre. Photograph by Mark Douet  I80A3478

When Henriette’s mother passed away in 1835, Henriette was granted control of her assets. After providing for her mother’s care, DeLille used the remaining money from the sale of her mother’s property to start up a small, unrecognised congregation of nuns in her local community. What started as a congregation of seven young Creole women and one young French woman, eventually developed into the Catholic Order of the Sisters of the Holy Family. At its height, the congregation was served by four hundred members and still has over two hundred today. DeLille’s work with and devotion for the Creole community and slaves in New Orleans lead to an estrangement between her and her brother, who’s usually successful attempts to pass as a white European man were damaged by his sisters local fame. Henriette became a frequent sponsor and Godmother to many mixed race babies at New Orleans Baptisms and Christenings, many of which were held at St. Augustine’s church. This church features in Gardley’s play and still stands today.

DeLille was the first native-born Creole whose cause for Sainthood has been officially agreed by the church. ‘Mother Henriette DeLille’ was declared venerable in 2010. At the time of her death, friends of Henriette attributed her end to a lifetime of service, hard work and the poverty that she had lived in due to her sacrificing her own inherited wealth in order to care for others.

Gardley’s Maude Lynn takes inspiration from DeLille in her devotion to Catholicism and to the caring of others and in her scepticism of the Plaçage system.