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There are two plays by this name:

Milestones: A play by Arnold Bennett and Edward Knoblock

The original text

Written in 1912, the play became a hit at the Royalty Theatre, playing for over 600 performances.

Dealing with the fortunes of an English family over a period of fifty years, from the 1860's to the early part of the 20th century. At the basis of the drama is the conflict between industrial progress and conservatism, expressed through the medium of English class-consciousness.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1944: Produced by the Gwen ffrangçon-Davies / Marda Vanne Company in collaboration with African Consolidated Theatres Ltd at the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg, and subsequently in Cape Town, with Ivy Collins, Margaret Inglis, Zoë Randall, Jessie Bryant, Wensley Pithey, Siegfried Mynhardt, Alec Bell, Noel Hewett, James Workman. Settings and costumes by John Dronsfield.


South African Opinion, 1(7):22, 1944;

Trek, 9(4):22; 9(7):22, 1944.

Milestones: A Musical by Mandla Langa

The original text

A musical play about a people who are rallying themselves for a return to their land led by a patriarch, a modern Moses. They perform their rituals in urban areas, observing custom. The subject matter draws on numerous issues affecting the new South Africa, the role of women in society, the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary lifestyles, land and the conflict between urban and rural lifestyles. The new South Africa is the focus, and the conflict is between urban modern and rural traditional cultures. The theme is the recovery of their ancestral land by a community who had lost it in the 1960s under the apartheid Group Areas Act, and the opportunity for them to regain their pride based in their traditional values; after working on the mines for thirty years an old patriarch hears that his family’s land has been returned to him and he moves back to the place of his birth, where the challenge is for a community to rebuild and to redefine itself. His only son had been shot as a spy by comrades during the anti-apartheid struggle and when the patriarch dies his surviving heir, his daughter, has to take over the leadership from him. The modern young woman is confronted by the choice between a life of relative poverty as traditional leader of her people, or a career as an urban lawyer in the big city with the bright opportunities available to her in the new South Africa. Her third option, the play suggests satirically, is to join the government and earn a fabulous salary with the perk of a big Mercedes or a BMW...

The piece started off as a collaboration between Mandla Langa (script) and Hugh Masekela (music), but the Langa's script went through several stages, with Masekela's score being augmented with additional music from Motsumi Makhene, Sibongile Khumalo and Mokale Koapeng, under the musical directorship of Themba Mkhize.

Seen as a high-profile event, the piece was originally scheduled to open at the John F. Kennedy Centre in Washington in 1997, but was plagued by artistic and financial setbacks, leading to a two-year delay, the piece finally opening in the United States capital, as well as other world centres, after its Grahamstown premiére in 1999.

The cast chosen for the original 1997 event was to have included Sibongile Khumalo, Owen Sejake, Professor Mavuso, Gloria Bosman, Sibongile Mngoma, Dieketseng Mnisi, Lesego Motsepe, Vuyo Mokoena, Michael Richards, Tony Kgoroge, James Ngcobo. Directed by Jerry Mofokeng (acting director) and Hugh Masekela (musical director) at the Market Theatre.

Performance history in South Africa

1999: Premièred at the Grahamstown Festival in June 1999, presented by Mannie Manim Productions, directed by Jerry Mofokeng, with Hugh Masekela, Owen Sejake, Sibongile Khumalo, Gloria Bosman, Sello Motloung, Mike Huff, Tsepho Desando, Motsumi Makhene, Mokale Koapeng and Steve Mofokeng, with choreography by Nomsa Manaka. Denis Hutchinson as set and lighting designer, Lyn Leventhrope as costume designer. The same production moved to the State Theatre in July 1999.

According to contracts held in the Mannie Manim collection at the National English Literary Museum ([[NELM), other artists contracted for the Johannesburg, Grahamstown and Pretoria seasons of Milestones also included Michael Hough, Mfana Jones Hlophe, Nelson Motloung, Dieketseng Mnisi, Velephi Mnisi, Nozipho Nguse, Thulani Mkhize, Josias Moleele, and Siyabulela Mkefa.

Translations and adaptations


Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Johann van Heerden. 2008 Theatre in a New Democarcy. Some major trends in South African theatre from 1994 to 2003. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Stellenbosch: p 160.[1]

National Arts Festival programme, 1999.

Folder containing signed contracts of employment with artists for the Johannesburg, Grahamstown and Pretoria seasons of Milestones dated 3 March 1999, held by NELM (Collection: MANIM, Mannie: 2010. 38. 2. 34. 12).

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