When you think of South African theatre, Sarafina! no doubt pops up as one of the most iconic productions to come out of our country and now it’s back at the South African State Theatre thanks to the State Theatre, in collaboration with Dr Mbongeni Ngemi and his company, Committed Artists Theatricals. It is also proudly funded by the National Department of Arts and Culture.
This multi-award winning production is one of our country’s most well-known pieces, showing the struggle for social and political freedom and justice. Sarafina! tells the story of the 1976 Soweto Uprising, focusing on the plight of Sarafina, a young school girl who becomes embroiled in the riots. It was conceived and directed by Mbongeni Ngema, who also wrote the book, music and lyrics with additional songs by the legendary Hugh Masekela.
From humble beginnings at The Market Theatre in June 1987 to the stages of Broadway and the world, Sarafina! has had phenomenal success, eventually resulting in a Hollywood film starring Whoopie Goldberg and Leleti Khumalo, John Kani and Miriam Makeba. The soundtrack, produced by Mbongeni Ngema and Quincy Jones, captured the world’s attention and brought South African rhythms to the forefront. The music encompasses many genres including Mbaqanga, jazz and gospel.
The character of Sarafina will be brought to life by the new, young talent, 23 year old Noxolo Dlamini who was discovered at the Sarafina! auditions last year. Hailing from Chiawelo Township in Soweto, Noxolo holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Pretoria and has recently featured in the Lion King in London as well as Lizz Meiring’s “Fantasia Of Light”.
During its run at the State Theatre in 2004, over 25 000 people enjoyed the show over 27 performances. With all the challenges facing the education system in South Africa today, it couldn’t come at a better time. The parallels between its story and the situation now will surely help us look back and remember that this democracy was achieved through blood and tears and that education is a right and not a privilege.
Mbongeni Ngema received 11 image awards from the NAACP (National Advancement of Coloured Peoples), as well as a Grammy nomination and 5 Tony Award nominations.
2016 marked 30 years of Sarafina! and 40 years since Soweto Student Uprisings so what better way to celebrate our history than by watching this phenomenal tribute to South African people and their strength to fight for what is right.
Previews begin on 28 February 2017 with Opening Night on 10 March 2017. Sarafina! will close on 20 May 2017. Tickets are available from Computicket with prices ranging from R150 to R180.
Author: Samantha Cerasoli