Committed Artists Theatricals, in association with the Joburg Theatre, will be staging the renowned, award-winning Broadway production of Sarafina! from June 14 to 24 on the Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre.
Directed by Dr Mbongeni Ngema, the show will be staged during this Youth Month to inspire and encourage young people while celebrating the centenary of South Africa’s finest humanitarian – Nelson Mandela.
One of South Africa’s most iconic symbols of the struggle for social and political freedom and justice, Sarafina! was conceived and directed by Ngema, who wrote and arranged the music and lyrics, with additional songs by the late Hugh Masekela.
“It is befitting that South Africa’s most successful theatrical export is finally coming to the Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre; a new generation of theatregoers will get to experience this rich musical legacy and reignite the belief within young people that South Africa is able to produce work that is among the best in the world,” said Makhaola Ndebele, artistic director at Joburg City Theatres.
Sarafina! was adapted to become a school setwork and it is studied by learners in schools across the African continent.
he play, which depicts pupils involved in the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid, was created in June 1986 and premiered at the Market Theatre in Joburg in June 1987, with Leleti Khumalo in the title role as the schoolgirl activist Sarafina.
The powerhouse musical took Broadway by storm in January 1988 during Black History Month, culminating in a two-year run on Broadway in Manhattan, New York City, and a five-year tour of the US.
Concurrently, a second cast of Sarafina! premiered in 1988 and went on to tour the world for four years, which included shows in the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and West Africa.
Sarafina! was later converted into a Hollywood feature film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Khumalo, Ngema, Dr John Kani and the late Miriam Makeba, with the soundtrack produced by Ngema and Quincy Jones. This fired the world’s imagination, engraving Sarafina! as a symbol of African triumph and hope.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People saluted this giant endeavour by Ngema, an African son of the soil, with 11 image awards in Hollywood, a Grammy Award nomination and five Broadway Tony Award nominations.
January last year saw the return of Sarafina! to the Pretoria State Theatre before an audience exceeding 50000 in total during its stay from February to April.
In celebrating the youth of 1976, Sarafina! promises to stage 14 electrifying performances at the Joburg Theatre.