Musical Freedom gets rave reviews on YouTube

The South African State Theatre building in Pretoria.
The South African State Theatre building in Pretoria.
Image: Tshepo Kekana

The South African State Theatre (SAST) has decided to pay artists royalties for work streamed online in trying to provide relief during the Covid-19 lockdown.

SAST is paying all artists as well as crew every week as if the shows were live on the stage. Among the shows that are being streamed on SAST’s YouTube channel is the groundbreaking musical Freedom which was brought back to celebrate Youth Month.

The musical is directed by artistic director Aubrey Sekhabi and the production has about 80 people involved. Sekhabi told SowetanLIVE that everyone who is involved in the show is being paid royalties. The show can be watched for free on YouTube until July 6 when it will be moved to paywall.

“All our shows that we have been streaming online, we decided to pay artists because we know their pain, especially the freelancers. They get paid every week and this is our relief method to the challenges that artists are facing. We have paid more than 200 artists so far who have been involved in the shows we streamed live,” SAST said.

According to Sekhabi, Freedom, which premiered in 2018, also examines the crime, violence, racism, xenophobia, corruption, and many other issues that cost people their freedom. Sekhabi said they brought back the show because it was relevant to what is happening around the country with the increase of gender-based violence. He said the show has been receiving overwhelming reviews even from Americans who feel that the show was relevant to #Black Lives Matter.

“My work really addresses the issue of violence, whether it is xenophobic or killing of women. We brought it back since it is Youth Month and Freedom is inspired by the youth of 1976 who fought for better education and against Afrikaans. The current crop of young people played their role in 2015 when they fought for free education. The struggle continues because in March this year students were still fighting for accommodation. Such stories inspire and make us reflect as a nation and ask questions such as 'what is wrong with us?'".

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