Les Miserables director in Uganda for charity show

Monday August 22 2016

John Caird

John Caird  

By Joseph Lagen

World renowned English stage director and playwright John Caird is in town to direct a narrative musical concert, At Home in the World, set to be staged next Tuesday (August 23) at the Ndere Centre.

The London-based director is most notable for his directive role in the 1987 Tony Award winning play Les Miserables that got adapted into the 2012 Oscar Award winning feature film under the same name featuring Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries).
He is also distinguished as a director at Britain’s Royal National Theatre and is an Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company with home he has staged the 16th Century writer’s works such as Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Merchant of Venice among others. His directive craft includes plays, musicals and operas.

At Home in the World is yet another of his written stage works that has gained traction in parts of the world such as Japan and USA for its use of children of different origin (Japan, Uganda and the USA) to tell their own beautiful tales in the midst of adversity.

“The audience in Japan was moved by the resilient narrative of their own young ones orphaned by the (2006) Tsunami…only to be blown away by the energetic dancing and drumming of Ugandan orphans at the end of the show,” Caird recounts, adding, “it was the same response we got in America.”

The acting children are all under the care of Ashinaga in collaboration with Vassar College of New York. Ashinaga is a Japanese- founded international non-government charity based organisation that caters for the education of orphaned children in many parts of the world; Uganda inclusive.

Their partnership sprouted out of a somewhat linguistic coincidence.


“I wrote and staged a play called Daddy Long Legs based on the American novel five years ago that Yoshiomi (Tamai; the President of Ashinaga) got to see,” he recalls. “It turns out that Ashinaga, the name of the organisation, means long legs in Japanese.”

Being that Daddy Long Legs had its script rotating around education, Mr. Yoshiomi resolved not to leave America until he had formed a partnership with Caird.

“He (Yoshiomi) flew all the way to California where I was working at the time to persuade me to do this show,” Caird recalls, “However, I initially doubted its ability to work but he stayed three more days until I agreed to work with him.” It was this that led to the first production of At Home in the World in March 2014 in Japan and later on in New York in 2015.

The 67-year-old stage director flew into Uganda on Monday to brush up on-going rehearsals for what will be his debut performance in the African continent. “I love Africa, though I have not until now gotten the opportunity to work here,” Caird remarks, “It is my second time in Uganda but my first stage performance in Africa.”

He has worked in countries such as Japan and Sweden and within those times worked on plays written in languages other than English.
“Celebration; that is what you can expect come Tuesday at the concert,” he says.