It is 25 years since Sarafina hit the stage and its creator, Mbongeni Ngema, is back, converting his classic theatre production Asinamali into film. The first-time director is also its scriptwriter, lyricist, composer and actor. "He is doing things with actors I wouldn’t even dream of," says producer Darryl Roodt. "The screenplay was about 48 pages long and we thought, well you can’t make a feature film from 48 pages. It ended up being 600 pages because he is so good at workshopping with actors." With his membership-based company Committed Artists, Ngema has developed a database of actors to draw on. "He found every one of the actors, all unknowns. It was extraordinary to watch him workshop these actors and build their characters, and you can feel it in the film. Every actor is clearly defined." The script has evolved into a play within a play. Ngema is in the lead role as a theatre director who enters a prison to work with convicts and create a musical to channel their struggles. T...

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