Lindiwe comes to Steppenwolf

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Pictured Ladysmith Black Mambazo with celebrated Chicago musician Frank Russell in Steppenwolf’s Front Bar after “Lindiwe” rehearsal. Photo taken by Frank Ishman.

Featuring Music Written and Performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo


A Love Story that Marries Traditional South African Sounds from Zulu Culture with Chicago’s Iconic Blues

Steppenwolf presents the highly anticipated world premiere production of “Lindiwe,” written by ensemble member Eric Simonson and featuring music written and performed by the five-time GRAMMY® winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Directed by ensemble member Eric Simonson and Jonathan Berry, the life-affirming love story travels from Chicago’s Kingston Mines to South Africa and beyond.

Lindiwe marries the traditional South African sounds from the province of KwaZulu-Natal (also known as Zulu) with Chicago’s iconic blues and features acclaimed musicians Frank Russell (bassist) and Buddy Fambro (guitarist) performing alongside Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Lindiwe’s love story challenges us to define the boundaries between this world and the next, all the while exploring the sacrifices we make for love. In the title role is acclaimed South African singer, actor and dancer Nondumiso Tembe (Avengers: Age of Ultron; True Blood) making her Chicago debut. Ensemble member Yasen Peyankov (Keeper), Jennifer Engstrom (Clarisse), Erik Hellman (Adam) and Cedric Young (Mkhulu) complete the cast.

Lindiwe marks the third collaboration between Steppenwolf and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The legendary South African a cappella group and Steppenwolf first partnered in 1992 for The Song of Jacob Zulu, which was also directed by Eric Simonson and transferred to Broadway receiving six Tony® nominations. Actor Cedric Young who is featured in Lindiwe was part of the original Zulu cast. In 1996, Simonson, Steppenwolf and Mambazo teamed up again for the “beautiful and deeply moving” (Chicago Tribune) production of Nomathemba, which went on to The Kennedy Center. Simonson received an Oscar nomination for his 2000 documentary On Tiptoe: The Music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo about the group’s global impact and message of love and peace.

“We are very excited to be working with Eric Simonson and Steppenwolf again. What we love about the creative people at Steppenwolf is that they understand our group and our rich history. They are able to connect their theatrical dreams with our culture and our country of South Africa. Lindiwe is exactly this—a connection between our two cultures, American and South African. We have been writing new songs and look forward to presenting them to the people of Chicago. Ngiyabonga (Thank You in Zulu)!,” shares Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

“With the play set in South Africa and Chicago, I thought it would be fascinating to combine the iconic music of Mambazo with Chicago’s iconic music, the blues. The result is incredible—Mambazo has a presence and a sound that hits you in the solar plexus, there is something deeply spiritual and timeless about them,” shares writer and co-director Eric Simonson.

Lindiwe runs through January 5, 2020 in the Downstairs Theatre (1650 N. Halsted St). Single tickets to Lindiwe ($20-$109) are available at 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. For the best seats and prices, Classic and Flex Memberships available: steppenwolf.org/membership.

Teen Arts Pass: Steppenwolf Theatre Company is proud to support the Teen Arts Pass (TAP) initiative as an arts partner, which allows teens to experience live arts performances all around Chicago for only $5. With TAP all Steppenwolf performances are now available to young people ages 13 to 19 for $5. Teens can register for free to TAP at teenartspass.org. TAP is a program of Urban Gateways, which engages young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change.

Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world.

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