Performing Luthuli ‘an honour’

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TO NDR Luthuli1

A JOURNEY through history and humanity is on the cards for Durban as the musical Albert Luthuli – Let My People Go heads for the local stage fresh from its Johannesburg run.

A musical based on a book written by Luthuli himself, Let My People Go is described as a “historical and powerful story told through multimedia, music, song and vibrant dance”.

Based on the life of Luthuli, the production has been adapted from Luthuli’s novel and directed by respected playwright Jerry Pooe, with choreography by Reggie Densta and music composition by the cast.

Durban’s Ntando Mncube takes the lead playing Chief Albert Luthuli. He is supported by Musawenkosi and Bongumusa Shabalala, who play the priest and postman. Thandeka Mdlalose plays Nokukhanya Luthuli, Chief Luthuli’s wife, while Stella Zuma plays Lillian Ngoyi.

Tonight spoke briefly with Pooe about his musical and why he chose to home in on Luthuli. “Chief Luthuli is very rich in terms of history. I have read nearly every book written by him…We are celebrating his life. There will be a mixture of emotions felt; happiness, sadness, celebration, but nothing too heavy. The musical journey is flavoured with humour while delivering a number of serious moments from events that took place in the apartheid era in South Africa,” he said.

Let My People Go ran for a season earlier this month at the Windybrow Theatre in Joburg and will now run for a season at the newly refurbished Stable Theatre in central Durban.

“This is an invitation to witness the journey of a man who was not only a freedom fighter and a leader, but was also a teacher, a family man, a preacher, a president of the ANC, a unionist and a Nobel Peace Prize winner,” Pooe said.

Mncube said performing Luthuli on stage had been a great honour for him. “At first I was nervous playing this role, but it became easier the more I was on stage. There is a very powerful moment for me personally in the production. It takes place during a time when pass books (the dompas) were being burned. There is a moment when Luthuli burns his. That for me was a very powerful moment,” he said, sharing his thoughts on the production.

“We all know what happened back then, but now (through the musical) it’s about putting ourselves in those people’s shoes, feeling their pain, rejoicing with them. This (musical) is a phenomenal piece,” he said. “It is such a powerful musical. During the performances (in Joburg) people would sing along and clap their hands, and the response from the audience after the shows was phenomenal,” Mncube said.

• Albert Luthuli – Let My People Go is presented by Eager Artists in association with the Stable Theatre from June 1 to 8 at The Stable Theatre. Tickets are R50, with shows at 3pm and 6pm. School shows will be held from June 4 to 8 at 10am and noon. For bookings, enquiries and directions contact Khethiwe at 072 462 1603.


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