THE historic musical epic
Gert Sibande: Lion of the East, created by Mbongeni Ngema, is to go on tour at last.
Ngema confirmed to Sowetan that the play, premiered in Witbank and Mbombela in Mpumalanga in March, will perform at the Playhouse in Durban and at the SA State Theatre inPretoria soon.
The play recounts the story of brave trade unionist Gert Sibande, who led the 1958 potato boycott in Bethal.
"The Durban shows will start this November until the end of next January. Then in March to the end of July 2010, the play will perform in Pretoria. In between its performances in Durban and Pretoria, the musical will also have a season at Gert Sibande District in Mpumalanga," Ngema said.
The world-renowned playwright said it was important that the play, said to have been sponsored to the tune of R20million by the Mpumalanga provincial government, performs in the Gert Sibande District.
"This is the district where Gert Sibande came from, in Secunda. The feedback has been good, with some people even saying that it was better than Sarafina.
"There are no major changes in the play, as the story remains the same, but we have tightened it a bit," Ngema said.
Ngema, whose latest creation was caught up in controversy when it came to light that the play would cost the Mpumalanga government at least R20million, said that around 17000 people had so far seen it in Mpumalanga.
"In Witbank, we ended up increasing the number of runs because of the demand," Ngema said.
But he could not give dates when Gert Sibande: Lion of the East would return to Mpumalanga.
Since its debut in that province, there has been speculation and many enquiries about when the play would tour Mpumalanga and the rest of the country.