The much-loved South African theatre classic, Sophiatown, will make a return to its original home at the Market Theatre after it first premiered there 37 years ago. The multi-award-winning drama with music by The Junction Avenue Theatre Company will open in February 2024 in a dynamic new production directed by Aubrey Sekhabi, complete with a live band on stage.

The production comes to The Market after a hugely successful season in 2023 at The South African State Theatre in Pretoria. Aubrey Sekhabi, who is the Artistic Director at The State Theatre, directs this powerful and moving restaging of the iconic work.
Sekhabi has retained his creative team and cast for the Johannesburg run, which includes Lungile Cindi (Set Design), Mandala Mtshali (Lighting Designer), Zakhele Mabena (Musical Director), Bafikile Sedibe (Choreographer) and actor Terrence Ignacious Ngwila who plays Mingus.

The play is based on the famous drama postulation of “what if?” During the repressive 50s, two Drum magazine journalists advertise for a tenant to come live with them in Mamariti’s shebeen in the freehold township of Sophiatown. To their surprise, a White Jewish girl from Yeoville arrives on their doorstep. Sparks fly in the milieu of Sophiatown culture that mixes Drum magazine journalism, jazz, literature, tsotsitaal and gangsterism. Audiences will be mesmerised by the musical genres of marabi, kofifi and kwela all inspired by the defiant residents of the mixed area, which, by its mere existence, was a thorn in the side of the Apartheid establishment.

The play was a product of The Junction Avenue Theatre Company’s workshop method in the mid-1980s of sourcing stories from the lived reality of the people of Sophiatown and then distilling these nuggets to produce the text.

The cast includes Terence Ngwila (as Mingus), Sindisile Nkuna (as Mamariti), Gaby Georgeson (as Ruth), Mncedisi Hadebe (as Charlie), Tshallo Chokwe (as Fahfee), Princess Sechele (as Princess), Zimi Mphefu (as Lulu), Sechaba Ramphele (as Jakes), and Sandisile Dlangalala (as the understudy to Jakes). Philisiwe Ntintili assists Sekhabi on the director’s seat. The band members include Khutso Nkwana, Thebe Mmushi, M’Kaddesh Magadagela, Surprise Mshwana and Oupa Makhubela.

The production runs at The Market Theatre from 27 February to 24 March, with matinees for schools during the week and various weekend performances for the public. Book early via Webtickets for this theatre classic that is guaranteed to move you.