News: Sabrina Mahfouz brings Zeraffa Giraffa to Clapham and Angel

News: Sabrina Mahfouz brings Zeraffa Giraffa to Clapham and Angel

Omnibus Theatre and Little Angel Theatre are delighted to announce a co-production of Zeraffa Giraffa, a new play by award-winning poet and writer Sabrina Mahfouz, based on the picturebook by Dianne Hofmeyr and illustrated by Jane Ray.

The play is inspired by the remarkable true story of a real giraffe called Zeraffa, and her epic journey from the plains of Ethiopia to the Jardin de Plantes in France.  

Set in 1827, the story begins when the Pasha of Egypt decides to present this magnificent animal as a gift to the newly-crowned French King, Charles X. A young boy called Atir is tasked to look after Zeraffa and together they embark on a 2000 mile voyage sailing up the Nile and across the Mediterranean Sea and finally walking from Marseilles to France. They cause a great stir along the way. After two and a half years Zeraffa and Atir reach Paris and receive a rousing reception.

The stage adaptation of this well-loved picture book includes a cast of three performers, an array of puppetry styles from shadow puppetry to object manipulation and live music. The beautifully designed set and originally composed music, celebrates the cultural heritage influencing the tale, and transports the audience from Ethiopia to Paris. The use of scale and perspective adds a fantastical and surreal quality to the play.

At the heart of this funny and emotionally engaging tale is a story which investigates complex and contemporary issues for a young audience. The narrative explores the immigrant experience, what it’s like to be different and the importance of acceptance. Mahfouz, raised in London and Cairo, whose previous work has frequently investigated the issues raised in this tale, adapted the story for the stage and worked alongside renowned children’s theatre director Elgiva Field. Marie McCarthy, Omnibus Theatre’s artistic director, said:

“We are delighted to be bringing this unique production to both our venues. Zeraffa not only travels from continent to continent but also journeys down the Northern Line, from North to South London. It’s an amazing true story from over 100 years ago but with an important message that feels relevant now more than ever. We hope it connects with communities across London.”


Zeraffa Giraffa plays at Little Angel Theatre from 21 September – 4 November 2017, before transferring to the Omnibus Theatre from 25 November – 17 December 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the Little Angel Theatre and Omnibus Theatre websites.