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The Market Theatre presents Sophiatown, again directed by Malcolm Purkey who headlined the production when it premiered here 30 years ago.
In 1997, Johannesburg City Council made a bold decision to reinstate the name of Sophiatown after the bohemian and multiracial suburb that was destroyed by the apartheid government was renamed Triomf. It took nine years before the process came to fulfilment. Twenty years after that decision, the name Sophiatown still conjures up a celebration of the triumphant spirit of the people who inhabited the suburb.
Sophiatown was famous in the 1950s for its defiance of the apartheid laws and as a place where musicians, journalists, politicians, entrepreneurs and bohemians thrived. All races mixed freely here, making it an amazing cultural hub and a constant annoyance to the authorities. Much of that is captured in the exuberant musical Sophiatown created more than 30 years ago by the Junction Avenue Theatre Company. The brave theatre company featured icons such as Malcolm Purkey, William Kentridge, Ramolao Makhene, Arthur Molepo and many others in its poster billings.
When Sophiatown premiered at the Market Theatre in the eighties it received rave reviews and walked away with several awards. The play is prescribed for the grade 11 syllabus in Gauteng. The Market Theatre is proud to present this production, once again directed by Malcolm Purkey who headlined the production when it premiered at the Market Theatre 30 years ago.
Sophiatown tells a story of a Jewish girl who arrives to stay in the tiny home of shebeen queen Mamariti in this vibrant suburb. Everyone is forced to confront the realities of life under apartheid and the shared pain that dictates their futures. The eight characters bring their dreams and hopes alive through song and comedy, and the play is rich with the original sounds of the place once dubbed the Chicago of South Africa.
Sophiatown will evoke nostalgic memories about a time and place of mythical proportions. The Market Theatre is committed to revisiting, re-imagining and highlighting works that were produced to shine a spotlight on the inequality of people of South Africa, and today such shows continue to offer hope and inspiration about the South Africa that still needs to be built.
Sophiatown will be presented in the John Kani at the Market Theatre. The season runs from 31 March to 14 May. Booking can be made via www.webtickets.co.za. Group bookings can be made by Anthony Ezeoke at 011 832 1641 or 083 246 4950