About The Emperor
"The Emperor", Colin Teevan‘s adaptation of Ryszard Kapuściński‘s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title, is a parable about power set at the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.
Kathryn Hunter astonishingly shapeshifts, portraying ten servants of Haile Selassie, among them his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer and dog-urine wiper, creating complex human portraits. Hunter, who with Colin Teevan and Walter Meierjohann were the acclaimed team in the Young Vic production of Kafka’s Monkey presented at TFANA in 2013, is here joined by Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke.
Kapuściński, who many considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize, slyly used The Emperor to illuminate corruption and political power in his native Poland. This adaptation resonates with the world’s growing and disturbing fascination with despotism.
By Ryszard Kapuscinski
Adapted by Colin Teevan
Featuring Kathryn Hunter & Temesgen Zeleke
Directed by Walter Meierjohann
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"Colin Teevan's adaption of Haile Selassie's reign by Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski maintains a devastatingly light touch... An entire country is conjured up by only two performers. Kathryn Hunter shapeshifts to become a myriad of courtiers... with her particular mixture of gravity and irony. The tremendous musician Temesgen Zeleke is on stage throughout, sometimes singing, sometimes sending out ripples of notes like a wind, sometimes speaking words of protesting students... This is neither a piece of invective nor an exotic excursion. It looks levelly at the allure of a man who introduced electricity to Ethiopia. 'First to his sixteen palaces, then to other places." - The Guardian