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Swazi-Born Actress Noma Dumezweni To Star As Hermione In The Highly-Anticipated ‘Harry Potter’ Play

Swazi-born actress Noma Dumezweni has been cast as Hermione Granger in the London West End reimagining of Harry Potter.


Amazing news from London’s West End. In the forthcoming stage reimagining of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger will be played by the Swazi-born Noma Dumezweni.

Titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the Palace theatre production is based on an original story written by Jack Thorne (the play’s writer), John Tiffany (the play’s director) and Harry Potter creator JK Rowling. The show will open in July 2016 as a two-part play intended to be seen in order on the same day (matinee and evening) or on two consecutive evenings. Dumezweni will star alongside Jamie Parker (as adult Harry Potter) and Paul Thornley (as adult Ron Weasley).

The story is set 19 years after the book series ended, and casts Potter as an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three. A synopsis on the play’s website explains:

“While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

Born in 1969 in Swaziland to South African parents, Dumezweni, 45, moved to England at a young age. Her work in the 2005 London West End revival of A Raisin In The Sun won her the 2006 Olivier award for best performance in a supporting role. In February, she’ll make her directorial debut with South African writer and playwright Mongiwekhaya’s I See You at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg.

Last month, Dumezweni was heralded for stepping in last minute to fill the title role in Penny Skinner’s Linda after Kim Cattrall withdrew. The actress had just one week to prepare before press night. Speaking with The Guardian on how she managed to pull it off, Dumezweni brought up her South African upbringing:

“I met the company on Friday afternoon, read with them and was blocked so I knew where to move... They said: ‘Don’t worry, just read it.’ So I had my script on stage until the beginning of last week. What’s been amazing is I haven’t had time to think about it. And the company has been extraordinary. I’m from a South African background and there’s this phrase – ubuntu – ‘I am because we are’. And that’s what this is about.”

With one fell tweet, JK Rowling expressed her approval of the casting and dismissed any of the impending backlash: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione”

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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