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SOPHIATOWN FOR SCHOOLS (article first published : 2008-07-30)

Sophiatown is playing at the Catalina Theatre, with special school performances at 11h00 Tuesdays to Fridays. There are also performances on Friday at 20h00, Saturday at 18h00 and Sunday at 18h00.

Sophiatown, the "Chicago of South Africa", housed a vibrant community of writers, musicians and politicians as well as gangsters and shebeen queens, and is remembered with nostalgia by South Africans who lived through the turbulent 1950's, when the town was destroyed by the government and its inhabitants forcibly removed to Meadowlands. The play deals with this period and shows the lives of a group of disparate people living in Mamariti's house in Sophiatown.

Included in the lodgers is a white Jewish girl, Ruth Golden, played by Kajal Bagwandeen, Jakes, a black journalist who writes for Drum magazine, (Loyiso MacDonald), Mingus, a gangster, and his girlfriend, Princess (Bonginkosi Khulu and Zukiswa A Ndunge). Other characters are the daughter of the house Lulu (Zinhle Dladla), the dignified Fafhee (Sfiso Simamane) obsessed with numbers, and Charlie, a young coloured man with a fetish for cleaning everyone's shoes (Robert Collins). Samkelisiwe Hlope is Mamariti.

Each one gives a commendable performance and the combination of characters makes for some interesting and explosive interaction between them all. The play has both humour and pathos, as does each character's personality, which, even without taking the political situation into account, makes it an entertaining production.

The play is directed by Daisy Spencer, with costumes designed by Kevin Ellis and set design by Themi Venturas.

The final performance is on August 3 at 18h00. Bookings and more details from Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889.




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