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Somizi Set To Work On A Musical Playwright That Was Banned In 1973

Phindile Gwala & Thembi Seete set to feature in How Long? Theatre play.

Somizi Mhlongo who is known as a jack of all trades in the industry is now involved in the making of a playwright originally created by Gibson Kente that was banned over 40 years for the message it portrayed.

Somizi, who is the choreographer of Kente’s musical drama, How Long?, told a media contingent at the launch of the historic production in Durban on Tuesday that he had “come full circle”.

How Long?, directed by Muvhango creator Duma Ndlovu, is set to return to the stage at the Playhouse Company next month May.

The musical is based on the death of Khulu, a helpless grandmother, who was a victim of apartheid police brutality.

Kente, who died in 2004, wrote the play as a response to pressure from Black Consciousness movements that cultural work needed to reflect the conditions of the oppressed.

Speaking at the launch Somizi said he was “relieved”.

“Some people may think theatre in South Africa is dying. It hasn’t died, or is even attempting to be in a coma. We just need bums in seats.

“When I was asked to choreograph this I was really honoured. This is where I was conceived. I have come full circle. For me it’s not just a pay cheque. It’s in my blood, because of my parents, I had no choice really.”

Ndlovu said the inclusion of an orchestra and hints of ballet in the play will make for “ground breaking theatre”.

The cast includes well-known local stars like Thembi Mtshali, Phindile Gwala and Khaya Dladla.

The show runs at the Playhouse Company from May 5 to 27.

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