top black directors stand behind lebo m

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Songwriter, arranger, composer and Lion King South Africa co-producer Lebo M remains defiant in the face of criticism over his remarks at the Naledi Awards for theatre on Monday.

Yesterday, on radio and TV shows where he was a guest to explain his remarks, he said he owed nobody an apology since leading playwrights had rallied around him.

It was clear that the storm caused by Lebo M's call for the theatre sector to transform is far from over.

Several black theatre practitioners who spoke to Sowetan yesterday expressed support for Lebo M's standpoint, demanding the acceleration of the rate of transformation in the theatre.

At the awards ceremony Lebo M lashed out at the awards for failing to honour black theatre talent.

Radio stations and TV shows for the most part of Monday and yesterday took the debate further.

Radio station 702 Talk Radio debated the issue further on Redi Direko's slot by inviting Lebo M, playwrights John Kani and Welcome Msomi, as well as the creator of the Naledi Awards, Dawn Lindberg, to the studio.

Lebo M stood by every word he had uttered on Monday as Kani and Msomi supported him.

"It is unacceptable that so few black people feature in this important event that recognises excellence in a critical industry.

"The reasons behind this poor showing should be probed and action must be taken to ensure that black people increase their significance in the industry," argued Lebo M.

"The awards have shown that transformation is urgent and it is actually late in this industry," said veteran Kani.

"I feel that Lebo M is justified in his criticism of the lack of representivity. I could have said the same thing myself.

"How do you explain that the Lion King did not win the set design, the costumes and lighting when we know it has no match in those areas?"

Novelist and playwright Martin Koboekae said: "I fully support Lebo M. The problem is that in our theatres we do not have representative black stories.

"How come those black people who were nominated did not win?"

Alexandra playwright Bongani Linda concurred with Lebo M, arguing that there was a need for transformation in the theatre.