Stage Door News

Toronto: Soulpepper presents “Sizwe Banzi Is Dead” May 25 to June 18

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Soulpepper Theatre proudly presents the Tony-nominated work by one of South Africa’s greatest playwrights, Athol Fugard, in their production of his revolutionary apartheid-era collaboration with John Kani and Winston Ntshona, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead.

Powered by an incredible trio of talents the play is directed by multi-award winning Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, and features performances from Dora-nominated playwright and performer Tawiah M’Carthy and two-time Dora Award winner Amaka Umeh, who recently made history as the first Black woman to ever play Hamlet at the Stratford Festival. Sizwe Banzi Is Dead will run at the Michael Young Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts, from May 25 to June 18, 2023.

The internationally acclaimed play on identity, oppression, and resilience follows Sizwe, as he comes to the realization that the only way for him to survive in his country’s brutal regime is to fake his own death. The story was partly inspired by Fugard’s time as a law clerk at the Native Commissioner’s Court in Johannesburg. After its premiere in Cape Town in 1972, the play became an international sensation. It went on to receive numerous accolades, including the London Theatre Critics’ Award, a 1975 Tony Best Play nomination, and a joint Tony win for Best Actor for Kani and Ntshona. They were among the first Black men to ever win this award.

"As conversations on race, identity and colonialism continue to deepen and grow in the public discourse, we are very grateful to be able to offer our audiences a chance to explore and reflect on these themes through the work of some of the greatest theatre artists of the 20th century,” said Soulpepper Artistic Director Weyni Mengesha. “How Mumbi, Tawiah, Amaka and the team have brought Fugard, Kani and Ntshona’s play to life is nothing short of exceptional. The rich history of this work and their contemporary interpretation come together to create a stunning experience.”

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu (director) is an acclaimed theatre creator and director raised in Kenya and Victoria, BC, and based in Toronto. Her credits at Soulpepper include The Brothers Size, Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The 27 Club and Porgy and Bess, as well as For Colored Girls and It’s A Wonderful Life, as an Assistant Director. Other directorial credits include Is God Is (Obsidian, Canadian Stage/Necessary Angel), 21 Black Futures (Obsidian/CBC), Post Democracy (Tarragon), Trout Stanley (Factory), We are Proud to Present (UTSC). She also serves as the Artistic Director at Obsidian Theatre Company and as Founder and Artistic Director at IFT Theatre. She is the recipient of a Dora Award, a Toronto Theatre Critics Award, a Canadian Screen Award, a Pauline McGibbon Award, amongst others.

Tawiah M’Carthy (performer) is a Ghanaian-born, Toronto-based theatre practitioner, notable as a director, playwright, and performer. His creator/playwright/performer credits include Maanomaa, My Brother (Blue Bird Theatre Collective), Black Boys (Saga Collectif), Obaaberima (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), and Yɛn Ara Asaase Ni, 21 Black Futures (Obsidian Theatre). M’Carthy’s directing credits include Fairview (Canadian Stage / Obsidian Theatre), Death and the King's Horseman (Stratford Festival), and Rihannaboi95 (Young People's Theatre). He is a founding member and co-artistic director of Blue Bird Theatre Collective, as well as a Dora-nominated playwright and performer.

Amaka Umeh (performer) is an actor who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and was raised in the West African city and Calgary. Umeh has been a part of multiple Soulpepper productions, including 1851: Spirit and Voice, Her Words Festival, Around The World in 80 Plays (2021), and, as a Dialect Coach for, 'da Kink in my Hair (2022). Umeh’s credits also include Fall On Your Knees (Eastern Canadian tour); Death and the King's Horseman, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Stratford Festival); The Wolves (Howland Company/Crow's Theatre), as well as the film The Stranger's Case (CBC Gem). They have received two Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a BBPA Harry Jerome Award, and a Toronto Theatre Critics' Association Award.


When: May 25 – June 18 (Mondays are dark). Weekend and Wednesday matinees at 2:00 pm

Relaxed Performance: June 4 at 2:00 pm

COVID-Conscious Performances: May 31 at 8:00 pm and June 7 at 2:00 pm (Masks required and 50% capacity)

Previews: May 25, 26, 27, 30 & 31, 8:00 pm

Where: Michael Young Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane

Approx. Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes (no intermission)

Price: Tickets range from $25.00 to $65.00 and Tuesday night performances are Pay What You Choose.

To purchase tickets: