Out of Isiolo
Santa Monica, CA, USA
Irungu Mutu was born in 1980 in Nairobi, Kenya - a diverse and cosmopolitan African city. Growing up in a multi-cultural urban area greatly influenced his outlook on the world. Throughout his life Irungu has always been fascinated by people, especially what motivates people, the migration of different people into a new space, and how they interact with the inhabitants of that area. During his teenage years he naturally found his way to acting. This interest really transpired when he moved to the United States at the age of sixteen, as he navigated his new world and new self in a new country. He eventually graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Acting. With his Bachelors Degree in hand, and all the incredible training he had acquired, Irungu moved to New York City hungry to be a part of the vibrant theater scene. He worked in numerous off-off broadway plays that spanned from the classics to experimental to modern works. He also tried his hand at directing and in production. In front of the camera he acted in short and independent feature-films. Eager to pursue his work on a higher platform he applied, auditioned and got accepted to several renowned Graduate Acting programs nationwide. He choose the Univ. of California San Diego. Here he trained and was directed by formidable Professors & Guest-Directors such as Robert O’Hara, Christopher Ashley and Andrei Belgrader. He was cast in such productions as Memphis (went on to win the 2011 Tony Award for Best Musical), Peter & the Starcatchers (went on to win several Tony awards) and Wildflower (had its NYC premiere at 2nd Stage). These three years were a pivotal turning point in giving him a chance to be on stage with masters of their craft and exposure to high caliber professionals. A few months after graduating with a Master Degree in Acting, Irungu was cast as Commander Osembenga in Ruined by Lynn Nottage (2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) at Mixed Blood Theater in the Twin Cities. This groundbreaking play fit right into Irungu’s deep interest for themes that engage with the African continent and its relationship to the modern world. Rebel militia in the 2nd Congo War mined coltan - a metallic ore used in technology such as mobile phones - and sold it to fund their rebel activities. He was also the dialect coach for this production. In the fall of 2015 he was thrilled to be part of PERFORMA 2015 in a piece called Before and After NY (curated by Adrienne Edwards). This world premiere was created by Hong-Kong based artist and anthropologist duo ‘Zheng Mhaler’, a professional Chinese dancer/choreographer based in NYC and Irungu. This highly collaborative piece explored the shifting interplay of global economies and migration, through a conversation between a Somali businessman working in the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong and a Beijing Opera singer. Another recent production which explored concepts of identity, migrants and oppression was Petrol Station by the acclaimed international theater director Sulayman Al Bassam. Irungu played an East African migrant worker, working as a gas station care-taker in the brutal desert of the Arabian peninsula. It had its world premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., March 2017. And, last but not least, last year he was blessed to be cast in Lynn Nottage’s world-premiere play Mlima’s Tale at the prestigious Public Theater, NYC. A profound theatrical production about Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the clandestine international ivory market, it charted the ivory trade from a game park in Kenya to a wealthy homeowner in China. Irungu’s been a part of many theatre productions that have been nominated and won awards. Including- Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel & Audelco Awards for Our Lady of Kibeho, Helen Hayes Awards (DC) and Theater Critic’s Awards (Philadelphia) for The Convert and Ivey Awards (Twin Cities) for Ruined. Around the middle of this decade he began to shift more into acting for TV and film, and producing projects for the camera with a desire to explore narratives inline with his thematic interests. On TV he’s been seen on The Blacklist (opposite Alan Alda), Preacher (pilot, directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) and Boardwalk Empire (opposite Jeffrey Wright). He is currently in post-production for Message in a Bottle, a short film he co-produced and acted in. He has also been an adjunct professor in Acting and Public Speaking at Univ. of California San Diego and Marymount Manhattan College here in New York City. Irungu cherishes collaborating with different people. He feels the exchange and dialogue that emerges from this opens up numerous possibilities. He is based in New York City.