Sarafina! in no show as actors strike

Picture credit: Sanmari Marais
Picture credit: Sanmari Marais

The cast of popular theatre production Sarafina! has downed tools due to no pay.

Scores of pupils were turned away yesterday from the State Theatre in Pretoria because of the no-show by the actors.

A teacher from a Johannesburg private school, said they were told there was no show when they arrived at the theatre in three buses.

"We got here at 11am for our first show for the learners, but when we got here we were told there is no show because actors are on strike because Mbongeni Ngema (musical's director) didn't pay them," the teacher said.

"The actors and actresses were busy pacing up and down here as we waited for the theatre manager to address us.

"I saw Noxolo (Dlamini, the lead actress) a few times at the theatre," she added.

According to the teacher, the school made arrangements to book their spot at the theatre last term, but were not informed yesterday morning that the show has been cancelled.

The teacher said her disappointed pupils stayed at the theatre for about three hours hoping a miracle would happen, but were turned away with a letter by the theatre manager apologising for the "inconvenience".

The theatre opened its doors for Ngema's remake of the 1992 hit in Febraury.

State Theatre CEO Sibongiseni Mkhize said the theatre was dissapointed with how events turned. "We have been informed that the problems have arisen because of the delays in payment and reporting between Committed artists and the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC)," he said.

"We will continuously monitor the ongoing discussions between DAC and committed artists,"

Mkhize added that the theatre had made arrangments with schools to refund them.

Dlamini said the show was cancelled, but declined to comment further.

"I am unable to speak about this right now. Please contact management on any matters relating to the show," she said.

Ngema's phone rang unanswered yesterday. He also did not respond to SMSes sent to him.