The Colour Purple is coming to South Africa and will be performed on our stages from 4 February – 4 March. South Africa is the first country outside of the United States to produce this Grammy-award winning musical.
The musical is based on a book written by Alice Walker, which was later converted into a classic film in 1985 by director Steven Spielberg. The challenges that the protagonist Celie faces in the musical is unimaginable.
As a poor, uneducated woman, Celia suffers abuse from her father and falls pregnant twice. She was then sold off for marriage to her abusive husband who initially wanted the hand of her ‘prettier’ sister. The narration of her heart-breaking and impacting life story is told over 40 years.
Executive producer of The Colour Purple, Bernard Jay talks to Azania about the challenges of producing the show and the lengthy negotiation process.
I’m producing the show with huge excitement, I cannot wait for it to be on stage. It has been four years in the making.— Bernard Jay, Executive producer of The Colour Purple
Jay says that it took a long time for the rights to be cleared and adds that being able to cast the show with actors and actresses they really wanted also contributed to the delay. Theatre availability proved a challenge as well, he adds.
I was told by the people who represent the show in the States that the owners, which includes Oprah Winfrey wanted it to happen in South Africa.— Bernard Jay, Executive producer of The Colour Purple
Jay says that all along, there was this huge enthusiasm from the authors, composers and Oprah Winfrey to have the show in South Africa. He adds that the cast was thrilled to receive the letter from Oprah.
Listen to the audio at 4 minutes 52 as Azania reads from what she describes as Oprah's beautiful letter to the SA cast. She writes: Decades after its theatrical debut, I'm still astounded by how unique each new version of The Colour Purple has been.
Oprah writes, 'there is no better time to tell this story in South Africa.'
Click on the link below to hear Oprah’s letter to the cast of the Colour Purple SA.