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Sarafina! (1986) is stage musical by Mbongeni Ngema as well as a 1992 South African film by Anant Singh and Darryl Roodt, based on the play.

Sarafina! (1986) the stage musical by Mbongeni Ngema

The original text

Set at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto, where in 1976 students assembled to protest against Afrikaans as the only medium of instruction. Through narrative, song and dance, Sarafina! follows the activities of a fictional class and, in particular, one girl named Sarafina, who inspired her classmates with her commitment to the struggle against apartheid.

Created in June 1986 and opened at the Market Theatre in June 1987, directed and choreographed by Ngema, with music by Ngema and Hugh Masekela. The play became enormously successful, going on to America, opening in January 1988 to run on Broadway for two years, then undertook a five-year tour of the United State of America. A second cast, which opened at the Market Theatre in 1988, went on a world tour for four years which included the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and West Africa. It was nominated for and won numerous awards over the years.

The text was published by ** in 198*,

Translations and adaptations

A famous film was made of it in 1992, directed by Darryl Roodt and produced by Anant Singh, featuring Leleti Khumalo and Whoopi Goldberg.

In 2012 the director Josias Dos Moleele adapted and staged the play by having the lead played alternately by a black and a white actress, and called it Sarafina! in Black and White.

Other productions

1986: Performed by Committed Artists at the Market Theatre in 1986, directed and choreographed by Mbongeni Ngema, with music by Ngema, and Hugh Masekela and featuring Leleti Khumalo as “Sarafina”, along with 20 dancers and singers.

June 1987 – A musical composed by Mbongeni Ngema and Hugh Masekela. Directed by Mbongeni Ngema. Cast : Baby Cele, Dumisani Dlamini, Lindiwe Dlamini, Ntomb’khona Dlamini, Khumbuzile Dhlamini, Congo Hadebe, Lileti Khumalo, Siboniso Khumalo, Mhlathi Khuzwayo, Cosmas Mahlaba, Thandani Mavinbela, Monlanhla Mbambo, Pat Mlaba, Mubi Mofokeng,Linda Mtolo, Thandekile Ncube, Nandi Ndlovu, Mhlanhla Ngema, Mpumelelo Shelembe, Kipizane Skweyiya at the Market Theatre.

1988: This company went on to open in New York in January 1988, and continue touring in the USA for 5 years. The second company opened at the Market Theatre, before beginning a four year tour, which included the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and West Africa.

2004: A co-production by the State Theatre, the Market Theatre, PACOFS and Ngema’s theatre company Committed Artists was staged with a large cast including Leleti Khumalo, Pat Mlaba and Velephi Mnisi and opened in the State Theatre in June 2004 before touring to other South African venues.

2012: A multiracial version of Mbongeni Ngema's original play, called Sarafina! in Black and White, was done in the Breytenbach Theatre, Pretoria, in October as a student production by the Department of Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) at the Tshwane University of Technology. It was directed by Josias Dos Moleele, with Sidney Agnew and Letshego Seekoe as choreographers, Rostislava Pashkevitch as the Musical Director, assisted by Pule Makona and sound design by Freddy Malesa. Produced by Vusabantu Ngema. Moleele cast Tumi Lesejane, black actress, and Suzaan Helberg, a white [[Afrikaans]-speaking performer, jointly in the title role, the actresses in repertory, alternating in the leading role. This casting drew strong reactions from critics and audiences.

2013: The play was revamped for a number of performances at the Soweto Theatre during July. However, in the light of the responses, the director had both actresses in the final two performances, with Lesejane appearing as the lead in the first act and Helberg in the second. At the end of the play both performers appeared hand-in-hand, dressed as Nelson Mandela and intoning the words "We are one colour".

2017: Presented by the South African State Theatre, Pretoria, in association with Mbongeni Ngema and Committed Artists Theatricals and funded by the National Department of Arts and Culture. Opened on 25 February.

2022: Presented in the Opera House at the Playhouse in Durban in July-September 2022.

Sarafina! (1992) the film, by Anant Singh and Darryl Roodt

Produced by Anant Singh, directed by Darryl Roodt and featuring Leleti Khumalo and Whoopie Goldberg.


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

Gibson Cima. 2014. "Sarafina! in Black and White: revival, colour-conscious casting and new social cohesion paradigms", South African Theatre Journal Volume 27, No. 3: pp. 207-221.

Wikipedia[1] News Headlines - Week 44 - 05/11/2016 09:30

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