In 2016, the Young Vic, HOME & Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg co-produced the world premiere of The Emperor, Colin Teevan’s theatrical adaptation of Ryszard KapuscinAski’s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title about the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. Directed by Walter Meierjohann, The Emperor starred the magnificent shapeshifting Kathryn Hunter.
Kathryn Hunter, Colin Teevan and Walter Meierjohan were the team for the acclaimed Young Vic production of Kafka’s Monkey which played at TFANA in 2013. In The Emperor, they are joined by Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke, who accompanies Kathryn Hunter live on stage.
Kicking off its new season, TFANA presents the American premiere of The Emperor. Hunter, who has also played at TFANA in The Valley of Astonishment directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne and as a memorable Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Julie Taymor, is a unique artist. She transforms to create the physical shapes and inner hearts of characters she plays – female, male, animal or spirit.
The Emperor explores political power. Set at the brink of Selassie’s downfall, Hunter gets inside of ten different male servants of Haile Selassie, including his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer and dog-urine wiper, to create complex human portraits. KapuAAciAAski, who many consider a candidate for the Nobel Prize, cagily used The Emperor to illuminate corruption and avarice in his native country, communist Poland. Today, as adapted and performed by this incomparable theatrical team, the material just as strongly illuminates our world’s continuing and disturbing fascination with despotism.