THE TEAM & ENSEMBLE
Mark is co-founder and Artistic Director of Isango Ensemble. Born in Yorkshire and brought up in Chester, he has worked in South Africa with members of the company since 2000.
Mark has directed all of Isango’s stage productions; The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso, The Snow Queen, Der Silbersee, The Beggars Opera- Ibali Loo Tsotsi, Carmen, The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo, A Christmas Carol – iKrismas Kherol, Aesop’s Fables, La Boheme – Abanxaxhi, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Izigwili Ezidlakazelayo, Venus and Adonis, uCarmen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Man of Good Hope, SS Mendi – Dancing the Death Drill, St. Matthew Passion and Treemonisha, and produced and directed all its films; uCarmen eKhayelitsha , (winner of the Golden Bear Award at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival) Son of Man, Unogumbe – Noye’s Fludde and Breathe - Umphefumlo
Paulina is co-founder and co-Music Director of Isango Ensemble. She has worked with members of the company since 2000.
She is also an advocate for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
She saw world-wide success playing the role of Carmen, both on stage and in the Golden Bear-winning feature film U-Carmen eKhayelithsa, for which she won a Golden Thumb from Roger Ebert. She was awarded the Best Actress Award at the South African Film & Television Awards for the film Son of Man. She made her Proms debut at London's Albert Hall in 2006 with the songs of Kurt Weill. In the same year, she sang the role of Bess in Porgy and Bess at both Umea and Malmo in Sweden. In 2008, she was invited to give a series of master classes to the theatre and music students at UCLA. In 2009, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, she sang a series of concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic, which were broadcast on German television.
2012 saw Paulina playing the role of Venus in Isango's Venus & Adonis, which opened the Globe-to-Globe season at Shakespeare's Globe in London. Following its success, she and the production returned to the Globe in May 2013. In 2013, she also played Noah in Unogumbe, an adaptation of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde and in 2015, the role of Zoleka in Breathe - Umphefumlo. On Isango’s USA Tour in 2015, she once again played Carmen and sang Titania in the new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2016 Paulina created and played the roles of Yindy and Sadicya in A Man of Good Hope at London’s Young Vic and New York’s BAM. Paulina performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra again in 2017 in The Cunning Little Vixen (conducted by Sir Simon Rattle), semi-staged by Peter Sellars and she reprised her role in June/July 2019 when the piece was presented by the London Symphony Orchestra; for this performance Paulina has been nominated for a 2022 Grammy Award.
During November of 2020 Paulina reprised her role as Yindy in Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope at the National Theatre of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain.
Paulina is also teaching at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music.
Mandisi is Associate Director and Music Director of Isango Ensemble and has been with the company since 2006.
He has been co-Music Director and arranger / composer for all Isango Ensemble productions since 2006, including The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo, A Christmas Carol – iKrismas Kherol, Venus and Adonis, The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso, Aesop’s Fables and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Izigwili Ezidlakazelayo.
Mandisi travelled to New York to work with Graduate Acting students of New York University’s Tisch School of Acting, as they explored relationships between South African and American theatre methods.
In 2012, Mandisi was the musical director and composer for Isango's Venus & Adonis which opened the Globe-to-Globe season at Shakespeare's Globe in London and subsequently returned to the Globe in May 2013. He arranged and directed the music for the films Unogumbe and Breathe – Umphefumlo. In 2015 he adapted Bizet’s Carmen and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Isango’s USA Tour. In 2016 Mandisi composed and conducted the music for A Man of Good Hope which ran at London’s Young Vic, New York’s BAM and London’s Royal Opera House. 2017 saw the creation of Isango Ensemble’s production of SS Mendi – Dancing the Death Drill, based on Fred Khumalo’s book Dancing the Death Drill, for which Mandisi created new music as well as incorporating WWI songs. In 2019 Mandisi arranged Bach’s St. Mathew Passion for marimbas and created new music for the show.
During April 2022 Mandisi was invited to Harvard University to work with Harvard students and the Leverett House Jazz Director to create and present indigenous African music at a workshop and
panel discussion during the Africa Week events in April 2022, as well as hold a three-day music workshop at the Center for African Studies during the same time.
Mandisi has released two albums as a solo artist; Somandla in 2018 and Cwaka in 2021.
Cwaka won the 2022 SAMA for Best African Adult Contemporary Album.
Lungelo Ngamlana is an associate artist of Isango Ensemble. He joined the company in 2007 and has been the choreographer for all subsequent Isango Ensemble productions. Prior to joining Isango, he was hosted by the Royal Opera House for the International Dance Fellowship in 2007.
His theatre credits include:
The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo
A Christmas Carol - iKrismas Kherol
The Mysteries - Yiimimangaliso
The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists – Izigwili Ezidlakazelayo,
Venus and Adonis,
A MidsummerNight’s Dream,
A Man of Good Hope,
SS Mendi – Dancing the Death Drill
St. Matthew Passion.
Lungelo currently teaches at NYU annually and before joining Isango
Ensemble he worked as a teacher, performer, and choreographer with many dance and theatre groups, both at home in South Africa and internationally.