Award-winning cult South African hit We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants will make its London debut in 2023, opening at the Riverside Studios 17 January to 4 February, with a press night on 19 January. Tickets are now on sale here.
Everyone who wrote a story for We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants has gone on to win a Pulitzer. Or gone to jail.
Do not bring your children. This show is strictly for adults…
Featuring South African artist and theatre maker Jemma Kahn and directed by Lindiwe Matshikiza, We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants is a unique solo performance of seven stories by seven renowned South African writers – running the gamut from orgiastic sex to death to cats with trust funds and everything in between – with Kahn using hundreds of hand painted illustrations and a virtuoso voice, in a twisted take on the ancient Japanese art from ‘kamishibai’ or ‘paper play’.
Jemma Kahn explains, “The ancient Japanese art form kamishibai is simplicity itself; illustrated cardboard panels are revealed one by one with narration. The effect is oddly mesmerising – like watching analogue television. Traditionally kamishibai is street theatre; since the 12th century Japanese performers would (and sometimes still do) travel from village to village on their bicycles using their hand painted stories to entertain and teach.”
Jemma Kahn trained in Fine Art and Drama in Johannesburg. Subsequently she spent two years in Japan where she first learned kamishibai. She came to study it under master performer Hige Rokusan and, after returning to South Africa, made the form uniquely her own with shows such as The Epicene Butcher (2013), We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants (2015) and in bocca al lupo (2016). Kahn has been described as “having the charisma of an old Hollywood starlet”, and her work variously as “live manga”, “like going to a BDSM conference in a tiny village bar” and “theatre for the internet”.
We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants has been performed at festivals and theatres in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Perth and Amsterdam. The seven stories are written by Nichola Spagnoletti, Justin Oswald, Tertius Kapp, Jemma Kahn, Rosa Lyster & Lebogang Mogashoa. The artwork featured in the show is by Jemma Kahn, Carlos Amato and Rebecca Haysom.
Jemma continues, “When the virus-who-shall-not-be-named took my career out at the kneecaps, I thought it was all over. I went back to uni, playing my shows in people’s living rooms to earn enough to pay my fees and my rent. So this whole London thing was a total, and delightful surprise. For those of us from elsewhere, London, like New York, is the city we imagine when we imagine making it in the theatre. It’s therefore with absolute joy, relief and no small amount of trepidation that I look toward playing at Riverside Studios.”
Riverside Studios Creative Director Rachel Tackley said, “Jemma Kahn is an extraordinary artist whose work has been seen by audiences all over the globe. This is the first time she’s performed in London, and we could not be more thrilled!”