THE REBIRTH OF AN ICON
SA entertainment got its wings as ‘King Kong’ launched the international careers of the likes of Miriam Makeba
towards the ring by a very ticked-off boxing trainer.
A few rounds later, he kissed the canvas and was left counting the stars above his head. When the wires in his head regained a signal, he decided to join the boxing club. Dlamini went on donnering all who came before him on his way to the apex of his boxing career – heavyweight champion.
They say by genes and bloodtype Dlamini was a bully and a braggart. The limitations of a black life during those dark days saw him fall from ring and life.
He found solace and comfort in the waters of Babylon, and went about instilling fear in people. Wellknown and feared for applying his brand of jungle justice, his intimidating figure and personality was used at dance halls to manage unruly patrons and other problematic beings.
One night in an act of unquantifiable rage and jealousy, Dlamini killed his girlfriend.
When the police arrived, he refused to put his knife down, but the cops must have been happy to put their target practice lessons to use. They popped three bullets in him, but this was no ordinary man, this was “King Kong”.
A few days at the hospital and he was ready to face the law’s music.
Perhaps in an attempt corner his last opponent, the law, Dlamini tried to instruct justice on how to deal with him and asked for the death penalty. But the judge under his gown and wig said ”12 years hard labour” before the sound of his wooden hammer filled the room.
It was a historic moment when the curtain opened at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town this week.
From the director to the lead, to the guy who just stands there doing God-knows-what, a team of talents and creatives has been assembled.
Multiple award-winning actress and singer-songwriter Nondumiso Tembe will be recreating the role of Joyce, which propelled Miriam Makeba to international fame in the original production of King Kong.
“The pivotal thing for me has been our visionary director Jonathan Munby’s decision for us to approach this not as a revival, but as a re-imagining of the original piece, which has been so liberating because that has given room for our own artistic interpretation.
“I am so grateful I have been encouraged to bring Joyce to life in a way that is unique and authentic to me. So I am celebrating Miriam Makeba in my performance and honouring her extraordinary legacy, but also making the role my own,” said Tembe.
“The music is incredible but extremely challenging. Our brilliant MDs, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder and Sipumzo Trueman Lucwaba, have been amazing and so supportive in helping me find the right vocal approach and tone – how to make these songs my own, how to use my strengths and help my voice shine at its best in this very difficult singing role.
“Likewise, Jonathan and our formidable choreographer, Gregory Maqoma, are helping me craft a performance that is dynamic and nuanced, bold and brave and compelling and that has emotional and psychological depth. I am so grateful and very blessed to have such an amazing support system as I embark upon one of the most challenging roles of my career.”
Actor, singer and dancer Andile Gumbi, well known for the character Zweli in the popular soap opera IsiBaya, will take the title role. Gumbi made his Broadway debut as Simba in Disney’s The Lion King and has starred in productions of this musical in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai and South Africa.
Asked how he relates to the story, Gumbi said: “It doesn’t relate directly but the story serves as a cautionary tale to us all to take responsibility for our own destinies.”
Master choreographer Maqoma has been roped in to create movement to the music of Todd Matshikiza. “The most exciting part about creating the choreography to Todd Matshikiza’s music is that the music has many layers and allows me to be imaginative and to add other rhythms, which at times counteract the music, creating a hybrid of music and choreography that lands itself in Sophiatown but that is also distincly African.”
IN STEP: Rushney Ferguson, Barileng Malibye and Ntando Rapatla at rehearsal.