A combination of hip hop, afro-beat, R’n’B, theatre and multimedia, 'The Deep North' is a celebration of the African Australian diaspora.

The Deep North

By South Australian Playwrights Theatre

inSPACE Development

Featuring RnB artist Elsy Wameyo and renowned Adelaide MC Stephen Tongun, and with music and script by composer James Bannah Jr and playwright Matt Hawkins, this is the story of Jasmine Mutesa, who has to choose between a scholarship at one of Adelaide’s most prestigious schools and keeping her family from falling apart in Port Augusta. The Deep North is an entertaining and empowering story about finding your voice and the meaning of home.

Presented by South Australian Playwrights Theatre, a company committed to new theatrical work from the state’s diverse voices, The Deep North is the first African Australian musical.

Director Matt Hawkins explains: “It is important for us to provide an opportunity for African Australians to see themselves on stage and to present the rich and diverse stories of the African diaspora. The challenges of living across two, or more, countries and the development of hybrid cultures will be something to celebrate."

Creative Team

Elsy Wameyo - Performer
Stephen Tongun - Performer
Samantha Riley – Performer
Tumelo Nthupi – Performer
Clement Rukundo – Performer
James Bannah Jr - Composr
Matt Hawkins - Writer & Director
Lucy Combe - Producer

★★★★★ A rich, emotional, musical and theatrical performance…The smart, witty script combined with catchy songwriting and brilliant performances illuminate the stage… The Advertiser
★★★★ ½ This show offers a feast of musical variety from uplifting melodic vocal numbers that thrive on multiple voices, traditional African folk songs, rap, and even a little Bach…This was such an exhilarating show… A really joyful experience – great venue, great music, great performances. The Clothesline
Truly thrilling…such an engaging piece of new Australian theatre. Highly recommended. Stage Whispers

Creative Team Bios

Elsy Wameyo

Hip-Hop/Soul Singer/Songwriter Elsy Wameyo was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1999. After being the first woman to collaborate with record label Playback 808, Elsy has performed alongside artists such as Grammy award-winning musician/singer/songwriter Printz Board, Maségo, Lady Léshur, Sampa the Great and Hilltophoods. Featuring on stages such as Groovin’ The Moo, St Jerome's Laneway Festival & The Root Down Festival. Elsy was Awarded Young Kenyan of the Year and Best New Artist In 2018. Along with other nominations including Best World Music at The South Australian Music Awards 2018. In 2019, she was awarded the people’s choice Best Hip Hop artist and later picked up the Creative Developement award at the Channel 7 Young Achiever Awards.

Stephen Tongun

Stephen is a graduate of Flinders University Law School and an actor, MC, and professional motivator. His outstanding theatrical performances over the last ten years have included: Beckett for Independent Theatre, Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, Oladoe Equiano in My Lover’s Eye by the Company of Muses, and Frank Forbes and the Yahoo Boy and Bordertown for South Australian Playwrights Theatre. For screen, he recently appeared in the feature film Escape from Pretoria and ABC TV series Stateless. Stephen played Uncle Ebby for the original season of The Deep North for the 2021 Adelaide Fringe season.

Clement Rukundo

Clement is an actor, poet, playwright, film and theatre maker who graduated from Adelaide College of the Arts in 2020.  During his time at college he appeared as Nils Krogstad in A Doll’s House directed by  Sasha Zahra and also featured in the productions Titus Andronicus and How to disappear completely and never be found. He wrote and directed the film Unmatched and has appeared in the feature film Mortal Kombat. Recently he was Assistant Director on State Theatre Company’s Hibernation.

Tumelo Nthupi

Tumelo is an Australian/South African actor and hip-hop artist. He played Luca in Seven siblings from the future with Mod (Museum of Discovery). In Alice Maio MacKay’s feature film So Vam he played Andy. Recently, he appeared in a Fantastic Noodles television commercial and played Ben in the 2021 Adelaide Fringe season of The Deep North.

Samantha Riley

Samantha completed her Bachelor of Musical Theatre in Ballarat before heading to Melbourne to commence her theatrical career. Here she worked in independent touring shows such as The Best of Broadway and in independent plays including The Return. Her first professional show, The Boyfriend, was with The Production Company. She then went on the national tour of Annie with Anthony Warlow and Todd McKenney. In 2018, she launched her cabaret show, A Little Bit Extra at the Adelaide Fringe. For South Australian Playwrights Theatre, Samantha directed The Middle Way at Holden Street Theatres in January 2019, and the 2020 Adelaide Fringe Season of Bordertown. For the 2021 season of The Deep North, she played Miss Taylor and worked as vocal/movement coach.

James Bannah Jr.

Having begun his music career in 2015, James became an autodidact drummer and multi-instrumentalist. After dedicating a strenuous amount of time towards cultivating himself as a musician, James took a leap of faith in pursuing his dreams and aspirations, enrolling in the Bachelor of Music program at Tabor College in 2019. James soon found himself working alongside Adelaide’s aspiring Kenyan artist Elsy Wameyo, performing at festivals and opening for major artists such as Sampa the Great, Adrian Eagle, Laneway and Groovin The Moo. In 2020 James composed the music for original production of The Deep North.

Matt Hawkins

Matt is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His feature films and shorts have appeared in over 30 international film festivals and his work has been loved by audiences in Australia, the UK and Ghana. Matt lectures in screenwriting and dramaturgy at Flinders University. For South Australian Playwrights Theatre, he wrote and directed Frank Forbes and the Yahoo Boy in 2018 of which was nominated for best professional production at the Adelaide Theatre Guide’s Curtain Call Awards as well as Bordertown, the play and audio serial (2019 & 2020). For Playwriting Australia’s Dear Australia, he wrote the monologue Unconditional Love. He wrote and directed the original production of The Deep North for the 2021 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Lucy Combe

Lucy is a writer, teacher and producer. She graduated from Adelaide University (Drama Studies) in 1999 and subsequently founded Newfangled Productions as well as working on WOMADelaide for Arts Projects Australia. She has a Grad. Dip. in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. In Melbourne, she worked with Western Edge Youth Arts (WEYA), assisting young refugees in the writing of Old Ghosts, New Land for the Big West Festival. For South Australian Playwrights Theatre, Lucy wrote and produced The Middle Way and the monologue, Flesh for Playwriting Australia’s Dear Australia project. She produced Matt Hawkins’ Bordertown and The Deep North for the 2021 Adelaide Fringe as well as Alex Vickery-Howe’s Watchlist in June 2021.

Image Credit: John Newton
Video Credit: Taia Doyle

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8 Sep 2022

Duration 50mins (plus Q&A)


Thu, 8 Sep 2022, 6:00PM


Drama Centre Rehearsal Room, Adelaide Festival Centre


Ages 12 and up

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