Sunday Times



’Twas the era of shebeen queens and Drum magazine; gangsters and musicians; politician­s and poets; jazz and journalism; the Odin Cinema and Can Themba: 1950s Sophiatown/Sof’Town/Kofifi was an indigent, yet vibrant multiracia­l urban community synonymous with cultural prosperity. And now, 38 years after premiering at the Market Theatre, the Junction Avenue Theatre Company’s theatric homage to this culturally and historical­ly iconic neighbourh­ood is returning to the stage.

Sophiatown, which has won multiple awards since its debut in 1986, is opening at the Market Theatre on February 27 and will run until March 24. As per the Market Theatre’s website, director Aubrey Sekhabi describes the play as “a drama with music and not a musical play”. Audience members will be treated to the sounds synonymous with 1950s Sophiatown; think kwela, jazz and marabi, inspired by a determined people defying apartheid on a sociocultu­ral front. For all its flair and artistry, one cannot disregard how South Africa’s oppressive, dehumanisi­ng and violent system of apartheid not only resulted in the deteriorat­ion of Sophiatown, but also the forced displaceme­nt of its people.

In keeping with the milieu, Sophiatown sees a young Drum journalist advertisin­g for a tenant to move into one of the rooms of the shebeen he’s lodging in. When a white Jewish girl from Yeoville takes up the offer, Sophiatown’s history — set against the backdrop of an authoritar­ian system — is theatrical­ly explored.

Get your ticket for this lauded South African play, featuring timeless music and a stellar cast and creative team, on Webtickets today.

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