About Mkhululi Mabija and Paul Castles

South Africa and New York

Mkhululi Mabija (CBA ’18) is a librettist and musical theater writer from Kimberly, South Africa. Productions include TSOTSI (Cape Town Opera 2018), MONGEZI (BLK JKS and Market Theater 2016), and BESSIE: THEBLUE-EYEDXHOSA (Cape Town Opera 2015). Awards include the Yip Harburg Award for Best Lyricist (2009 and 2010), Really Useful Group Award, and the Eugene O’Neill Music Theater Conference for GODDESS (2013). Mabija graduated from Tshwane University of Technology with a BA in musical theatre performance (2006) and from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in musical theatre writing (2010). At the age of 24, he became the youngest adjunct professor at New York University teaching a subject called South African Culture through History, Art, and Media. Current commissions include a new opera for Gauteng Opera with composer Angelique Mouyis.

Paul Castles (CBA ’18) is a Brooklyn-based composer originally from Sydney, Australia. Productions include WILD GOOSE DREAMS (La Jolla Playhouse 2017), THEFOUNTAIN (Theater Troupe Georipae 2012; Best New Musical at the 6th Daegu International Musical Festival), TOUCHINGLOSS (Clare Cook Dance Theater 2016), and MISSJULIE (Theater Troupe Georipae 2013). He has composed music for the Miryang Summer Festival, Three Act Theater, Salem Theater, and Pac Un, and received commissions from the Nexas Quartet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Clock Ensemble, and various companies and solo performers. His work has been developed by the Sundance Institute, Victorian Opera, Old Vic Lab, Cybec 21st Century Young Composers Program, Playwrights Foundation, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows. Castles has an MMus. in Composition from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, an MFA in musical theater writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

The Road Between the Desert and the Ocean

The Road Between the Desert and the Ocean is an original ballet-opera with a libretto by Mkhululi Mabija and music by Paul Castles. It tells the story of Samo and Gamo, two elders lost in the deserts of the Kalahari Desert (present-day Namibia). Mabija and Castles will explore the use of ballet as the primary mode of narrative expression within a music theater piece and the dramatic storytelling possibilities of replacing text and staged action with movement and dance.