“Kathryn Hunter - the evening belongs to her. It could very well be the stage performance of the year.” - The Sunday Times

Co-production: Young Vic, HOME, and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg

Kathryn Hunter

Temesgen Zeleke

Ryszard Kapuściński

Colin Teevan

Walter Meierjohann

The Emperor, Colin Teevan‘s adaptation of Ryszard Kapuściński‘s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title, is a parable about power set at the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.

Kathryn Hunter astonishingly shapeshifts, portraying ten male servants of Haile Selassie, among them his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer and dog-urine wiper, creating complex human portraits. Hunter, who with Colin Teevan and Walter Meierjohann were the acclaimed team in the Young Vic production of Kafka’s Monkey presented at TFANA in 2013, is here joined by Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke.
Kapuściński, who many considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize, slyly used The Emperor to illuminate corruption and political power in his native Poland. This adaptation resonates with the world’s growing and disturbing fascination with despotism.


Join us for our free post-show conversations with artists and scholars that will take place during the following: 

  • Saturday, September 15, after 7 pm performance – moderated by Jonathan Kalb, with Walter Meierjohann, Colin Teevan, Kathryn Hunter, and Temsesgen Zeleke
  • Saturday, September 22, after 2 pm performance – moderated by Richard McCoy, with Maaza Mengiste and Sean Gasper Bye
  • Saturday, September 29, after 2 pm performance – moderated by Jonathan Kalb, with Yemane Demissie and Krystyna Illakowicz

Photo credit: Kathryn Hunter in The Emperor at the Young Vic. Photo by Simon Annand.