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Monday, April 20, 2015


Keep the Dream / Catalina UnLtd presents the South African classic and Drama set work, Sophiatown. Based on the final days of this vibrant and mixed community, this tragi-comedy with strong musical elements tells the story of Kofifi, Softown, Sophiatown … through a group of residents who call number 65 Gerty Street, home.

The play is set within the historical context of South Africa, 1955, when the National Party was swiftly legally entrenching the Apartheid practice of separate development, with the Native Resettlement Act. It deals with the destruction of one of many suburbs that were seen as a threat to these policies.

A freehold suburb, just outside of Johannesburg, Sophiatown was a thriving living space with a mixed population of blacks, so-called coloureds, Indians and Chinese. White intellectuals, students and bohemians were drawn to the lifestyle – the fast life, the danger, the jazz and the style. On February 9, 1955, three days early, the G-men (police) moved in with their trucks and moved the residents out, destroying their homes to ensure that they could not stay and giving them little time to carry out the planned protests and boycotts. All were resettled in various “townships” during the eight years it took the government to totally demolish the area and resurrect it as a whites only suburb, ironically called Triomf (Triumph).

The spirit of freedom, creativity and intellectual pursuit are evidenced in the South African luminaries who called this place home: Miriam Makeba, Dollar Brand, Don Mattera, Hugh Masekela, Spokes Mashiyane, Can Themba, Henry Nxumalo, Nat Nakasa, Father Trevor Huddleston, Dolly Rathebe, the Manhattan Brothers and so many more. Home of Drum Magazine, Back of the Moon, Freedoms Square and Tsotsitaal!

Jakes (Mr. Drum), a young journalist and member of the emerging black intellectual set, always after the sensational “story”, sums up the mood of this special place and the attraction it had for South Africans at the time:

“Tap in the yard, toilet in the corner – but it was grand because it was Softown. Freehold! It was ours! Mingus the “American” who only goes for the best, a ruthless gangster who wants a moonlight ride. Charlie, his trusty and faithful right hand man, he don’t say much, but he sure loves shoes. Princess – the “princess of the slum” and gangster’s moll, she dreams of having a choice. Ruth, the adventurous Jewish girl from Yeoville, who answered the advert and seems so simple in her wants and needs…yet learns the Fahfee runner’s code for what purpose? Mr Fahfee, “What’s the number today?” – The bush telegraph, connected to Congress and with a special interest in Ruth. Lulu the school girl, Dolly Rathebe is her idol and she doesn’t want fiction, she wants the truth! And finally Mamariti, owner of 65 Gerty Street and Mamariti’s Diamond Shebeen, landlady and general entrepreneur – Sophiatown is her home, she’d rather die, than leave.”

Thabiso Radebe is the director assisted by Musawenkosi Ntuli with musical direction by Sizwe Nzimande. The productions features Eugene Hadebe (Jakes); Wanda Zuma (Mingus); Caitlin Goulding (Ruth); Philani Muthwa (Charlie); Thuso Mathe (Fahfee); Amanda Forbay (Lulu); Slindile Dladla (Mamariti), and Okuhle Danti (Princess)

There will be school performances from today (April 20) to May 1 at 11h00 and 14h30 daily with possible extensions by request. Strictly advance booking only.

Sophiatown will have public performances from April 24 to 26 at 19h00 at Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf.

The production is open to tour to schools in and around Durban from May 4 to June 12. Tickets for Durban schools R80 per learner (R60 per learner for schools outside of Durban). KZN tour and other provinces available upon request.

Bookings via Musa Ntuli at Catalina Theatre on 031 837 5999, 079 988 2695 (call/whatsapp/sms) or email: