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FOR veteran actor Thabani Mahlobo, being a part of Long Journey – The Musical is more than just a role in a stage production, it’s about touching on real-life issues and giving an insight into them.
In this case the topic is miners and the mining industry and Mahlobo said the beauty of Long Journey – The Musical is its relevance to mining countries and communities the world over.
“The show talks about miners and the hardships they face; from what goes on in the compounds where they live to the heaviness they feel, having to leave their families – who’re mostly in the rural areas – behind,” explained Mahlobo.
Written and directed by Zeph Nzama, Long Journey returns to Durban after its debut here last year and following a successful run at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year, where the cast garnered standing ovations.
The show boasts a big-league cast including Buhle Ntuli (African Footprint), Alex Mthiyane (Gagasi FM), Mandla Manzi (Maria Maria) and Mahlobo (Happiness Through the Mist). Other cast members include Bongani Mchunu, Sifiso Cele, Thami Zungu, Cyprian Nzama and Siyabonga Zuma.
The musical is about the journey of someone who has to leave home to work in the city and what happens to the families left behind and in the hostels in the city.
With a mix of contemporary, tap and gumboot dance genres, comedy and drama sketches and live music, Mahlobo said there was more than enough variety and laughs to balance out the heaviness of the issues addressed, while still addressing them.
“Miners in South Africa are just like miners all over the world, from the Far East to West Africa… They all have to leave their families to make money, they are mistreated, they risk their lives every day, and many die on the job. We deal with these issues, but in a positive manner. We want to show people exactly what miners’ lives are like.”
Commenting on Nzama’s writing and directorial skills, Mahlobo said: “I’ve worked with Zeph for a long time now. He is very experienced in direction and he is good with telling South African stories. At the National Arts Fest we had standing ovations because every element is strong, from the writing and direction to the music.
“We plead with the Durban audience to come and watch the show, see what local artists are up to. There is no vulgarity in this show, it is suitable for the family. It is a great production to get people to understand what is going on on the mines,” said Mahlobo.
• Long Journey – The Musical is at the Playhouse Drama Theatre from November 7 to 10 at 7pm. Tickets R95 (R85 for block bookings) through Computicket and at the Playhouse Box Office on 031 369 9540.