Date: 24 Apr - 14 May 2017
Time: Monday - Thursday 10:00, Friday 10:00 & 20:00, Saturday 20:00, Sunday 15:00
Venue: Arena Theatre
Directed by: Aubrey Sekhabi
Musical Director: Zakhele Mabena
Choreography: Bafikile Sedibe
Assistant Director: Kea Moeketsane
Sophiatown is a lively and memorable musical that is being revived with a new, young cast under the experienced eye of director Aubrey Sekhabi to delight today’s audiences with its timeless music.
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 fomented here during the repressive 1940s and 1950s.
The play 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 capella harmony and original songs from the period about Sophiatown, or Kofifi as it was fondly known.
Despite the violence and poverty, Sophiatown was a legendary black cultural hub and the epicentre 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 colour. The very existence of Sophiatown as a ‘mixed’ suburb was in direct contradiction to the apartheid policy of geographically separating people according to their colour. Its heyday finally ended when the authorities deliberately tore the area apart.