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Tiata Appoints Msamati as New Artistic Director

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Lucian Msamati, who is currently appearing in the Royal Court’s production of Clybourne Park, will succeed Femi Elufowoju Jr as artistic director of British African theatre company Tiata Fahodzi.

The actor, who is best known for his role as JLB Matekoni in the BBC adaption of Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, was born in the UK to Tanzanian parents. He was raised and educated in Zimbabwe where, in 1994, he was a founder member of Over The Edge, the country’s first multiracial, professional theatre company. He moved to the UK in 2003.

His other recent theatre credits include Ruined at Almeida, Death and the King’s Horseman at the National Theatre, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Lyric Hammersmith, Pericles for the RSC, The Overwhelming with the National and Out of Joint and Fabulation and Gem of the Ocean at the Tricycle Theatre. Msamati has also written for the stage, having previously worked with Tiata Fahodzi to develop a play which was presented as a staged reading as part of Tiata Delights at Soho Theatre in 2007.

Speaking about the announcement, Msamati said: "I am truly honoured and not a little humbled that after an exhaustive and rigorous search, the Board of Tiata Fahodzi have put their faith in me. Femi Elufowoju, Jr’s work over the years has been by turns legendary and inspirational. It is my sincerest wish to honour that legacy and to rise to the challenge of taking Tiata Fahodzi to the next level."

Archie Graham, Chair of Tiata Fahodzi’s board, spoke about the importance of a British African theatre company being led by someone deeply rooted in that culture, saying: "Tiata Fahodzi seeks to represent the whole continent of Africa and Lucian’s appointment brings the energy and outstanding theatre traditions of southern Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular, into the heart of the company. It is also a landmark moment for British theatre as a national company is led for the second time by an Artistic Director of African heritage."

Tata Fahodzi was founded in 1997 by Femi Elufowoju Jr to produce theatre which conveys, celebrates and challenges the cultural experiences of Africans. Elufowoju left the position of artistic director earlier this year to pursue a freelance career. He returns as guest director for the company’s radical new all-female version of Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, which will be staged at the Arcola Theatre from 29 October to 20 November 2010 (previews from 27 October).


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