With only just six shows left to sold-out, the highly anticipated ‘Sophiatown’ Musical is set to take the Capital City down memory lane when it runs from 28th April to 14th May (with a possible extension) at the South African State Theatre. This lively and memorable musical is revived with a fresh, new, young cast to delight today’s audiences with its timeless music, under the experienced eye of State Theatre’s multi-award winning Artistic Director, Aubrey Sekhabi.
Patric Shai who’s a veteran cast of Sophiatown as ‘Jakes,’ will on Friday 21st April, give an induction to the newly bred cast that is set to perform this historical masterpiece. Before the induction we’ll observe a rehearsal of the show from 11:00. The media is invited to capture this moment when this legendary theatre-born passes on the baton to a new generation.
‘Sophiatown’ is an imaginative reconstruction of an extraordinary story of journalists who set up a house together and advertised for another housemate to come and live with them. Despite the apartheid legislation of those days, they managed to obtain permission for a white Jewish woman to move in. This character was Ruth Golden from Yeoville, who turned up with a suitcase on the Sophiatown doorstep of an explosive journalist, Jakes. The challenge was integration. The play is interspersed throughout with a’capella harmony and original songs from the period about Sophiatown, or Kofifi as it was fondly known.
As South Africa is due to wrap up Freedom Month with its’ popular holiday ‘Freedom Day’ on the 27 of April, we remember that despite the violence and poverty, Sophiatown was a legendary black cultural hub and the epicenter of politics, jazz and blues. It symbolised a society that allowed a freedom of action, association and expression, where people lived together in harmony, undivided by race or color. The very existence of Sophiatown as a ‘mixed’ suburb was in direct contradiction to the apartheid policy of geographically separating people according to their color. Its heyday finally ended when the authorities deliberately tore the area apart.
Sekhabi’s directing work is popularly known in famous productions including ‘Kalushi -The Story of Solomon Mahlangu,’ Revonia Trial, Silent Voices, Marikana- The Musical, to name a few. In 2015 his two plays Hungry and MARIKANA received unprecedented 18 Naledi Theatre Awards Nominations, out of which he won six awards with MARIKANA- the Musical. For his contribution, his works have been nominated more than sixty times and won numerous awards along the way.
Sophiatown came to be known as the ‘Chicago of South Africa’, and a place where shebeen queens, gangsters, politicians and black and white ‘Bohemians’ rubbed shoulders and traded drinks in a heady atmosphere fizzing with music, style and rebellion. This vibrant community produced some of South Africa’s most famous musicians, artists, writers, journalists and politicians as urban African culture formed here during the repressive 1940s and 1950s. ‘Sophiatown Musical’ will grandly open in 300 seating Arena Theatre on the 28th of April to run till 14th May. A possible extension will be communicated in time. Tickets can be purchased at Computicket at R110 and R100 for students. For group bookings, people can contact sales office on 012 392 4000.