Sophiatown, a beloved South African theatre classic that debuted 37 years ago, will return to The Market Theatre, its original home.
The production returns to The Market Theatre following a phenomenally successful 2023 season at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria.
The South African State Theatre’s artistic director, Aubrey Sekhabi, is in charge of directing this powerful and moving performance of the classic piece.
For the Johannesburg run, Sekhabi has kept his creative team and cast, which consists of actor Terrence Ignacious Ngwila as Mingus, lighting designer Mandala Mtshali, musical director Zakhele Mabena, choreographer Bafikile Sedibe, and set designer Lungile Cindi.
A drama with music
As he worked through the script, Sekhabi claimed to have realised that Sophiatown is not a musical play but rather a drama with music.
“The text is so rich; even if you remove the songs, it will still hold up as a powerful play,” said Sekhabi.
The Market Theatre’s artistic director, Greg Homann, expressed his delight at being able to present a masterfully constructed rendition of Sophiatown to the public.
“When I first saw the production at The State Theatre with a full house of school learners one Friday afternoon, I was so enthralled with how that audience connected with the history, humour, and overall impact that the work still has for us today,” said Homann.
“It’s a privilege to be able to welcome Sophiatown back to its home theatre, where it can be shared again with those that know and love it and with those that are seeing the work for the very first time.”
Relevance of the play
Speaking about the relevance of the play, Sekhabi said: “The question of identity, landlessness, education, and race relations still haunts South Africa.
“A piece like Sophiatown reminds us of how far we have come and how much work still needs to be done to create a better South Africa.”
The cast includes Ngwila, Sindisile Nkuna as Mamariti, Gaby Georgeson as Ruth, Mncedisi Hadebe as Charlie, Tshallo Chokwe as Fahfee, Princess Sechele as Princess, Zimi Mphefu as Lulu, Sechaba Ramphele as Jakes, and Sandisile Dlangalala, the understudy to Jakes.
Philisiwe Ntintili assists Sekhabi in the director’s seat.
Khutso Nkwana, Thebe Mmushi, M’Kaddesh Magadagela, Surprise Mshwana, and Oupa Makhubela are among the members of that band.
The production will run at The Market Theatre from February 27 to March 24.