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Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Night of the playwrights: John Kani chats to Craig Higginson, Harry Kalmer and Neil Coppen at Love Books

Night of the playwrights: John Kani chats to Craig Higginson, Harry Kalmer and Neil Coppen at Love Books
Nothing But the TruthMissingThree PlaysDie Bram Fischer WalsTin Bucket Drum


Wits University Press and Love Books have the pleasure of inviting you to join four award-winning playwrights to celebrate their plays published with Wits University Press.

John Kani, author of much-loved plays Nothing But the Truth and Missing, will be in conversation with Craig Higginson (Three Plays), Harry Kalmer (Die Bram Fischer Wals and The Bram Fischer Waltz), and Neil Coppen (Tin Bucket Drum).

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 08 November 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: John Kani
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP:

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2016 Mail & Guardian Literary Festival celebrates the life and work of Sol Plaatje

Lover of His PeopleSol Plaatje's Native Life in South AfricaSol PlaatjeThree PlaysThe Spirit of Marikana

The seventh annual Mail & Guardian Literary Festival will take place on 8 and 9 October in Newtown, Johannesburg at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.

The festival will mark the 140th anniversary of the birth of Sol Plaatje, novelist, poet, translator, chronicler and founder member of what is now the African National Congress (9 October, 1876).

Find the full programme and all info about the venue and tickets below.

Event Details

Have a look at the programme:



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Freedom’s ambiguities explored in Missing, a play by John Kani with an introduction by Njabulo Ndebele

MissingThe text of John Kani’s latest play Missing, with an introduction by Njabulo Ndebele, is now available from Wits Press:

Missing is the story of Robert Khalipa, an ANC Cadre living in exile, who is very senior in the Organisation but is left out of the negotiations and almost forgotten in Sweden. Robert has a wealthy Swedish wife, Anna, and they have a daughter who is a practising doctor in a hospital in Stockholm. There is also Robert’s protégé Peter Tshabalala, junior in the Organisation, yet he gets the call to return to South African to join the democratic government.

What follows is a story of conspiracies, lies, backstabbing and disappointments. Robert and his family are faced with the challenges of a South Africa that has changed radically from the one he remembers from more than 30 years ago. The government, in his opinion, does not seem to uphold the principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter. There is also conflict within his own family. Robert wants to stay in South Africa, while his wife and daughter want to go back to Sweden. Their love is tested to breaking point and difficult decisions have to be made by every individual.

As with Kani’s very successful and often-performed previous play, Nothing but the Truth, the ambiguities of freedom and of personal commitment are explored in this play.

Missing, an intense reflection on home and exile, comes at a particularly important moment in the evolution of the relationship between public and individual sensibility.

- Njabulo S Ndebele, academic, literary scholar and writer

John Kani’s Missing is a powerful post-apartheid paradox. The leadership issues we face are no longer about black or white … they are a kaleidoscope of bright, compelling and confronting colours which challenge our very identity as a nation. Through this evocative play we are enabled to confront our own stories of personal commitment and political pragmatism in that moment when Robert Khalipa says “We fought for Freedom and we got Democracy”.

- Melanie Burke, Common Purpose South Africa

About the author

John Kani is a South African actor, director and playwright. He co-wrote Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island, with Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona, in the early 1970s. Nothing but the Truth (2002) was his debut as sole playwright and was first performed in the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Nothing but the Truth is published by Wits University Press (2002) and has been prescribed for many years for Grade 12 learners.

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Watch the Film Adaptation of Nothing But the Truth by John Kani

Nothing But the TruthNothing But the Truth is a one-man play that was written by John Kani, one of South African theatre’s great actors.

The play was adapted to film in 2008, and stars the playwright as the lead character. The story is about the contrast between black South Africans who remained in South Africa through apartheid, and those who lived in exile during the trying time.

Kani plays a man called Sipho, who is planning the funeral of his younger brother Themba, who lived in England was regarded as a struggle hero. The events of the story bring the rivalry between the two brothers to the fore and deals with the ambiguities of early post-apartheid South Africa.

Walter Phosa has shared a the full movie on YouTube:

YouTube Preview Image

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John Kani Honoured to Have Nothing But the Truth Chosen as Matric Setwork: “I Studied Dead Authors!”

Nothing But the TruthJohn Kani says he was “overawed” when his play, Nothing But the Truth, was chosen as a matric setwork.

“What an honour. I studied dead authors!” he tells Pippa Hudson of CapeTalk. “To go into a school in Soweto or all over South African and the young people say ‘that’s him, he wrote the book – I passed your book!’

“I felt such honour to be part of the material that will shape the future leaders of this country.”

Kani is an actor, producer and playwright, a Tony Award winner, one of the founders of the famous Market Theatre in Joburg, and chairman of the National Arts Council.

Listen to the conversation:

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Anthony Akerman’s Somewhere on the Border Wins 2014 Thomas Pringle Award

Somewhere on the BorderThe English Academy of South Africa’s 2014 Thomas Pringle Award for Best Short Story/Play has been awarded to Anthony Akerman, the author of Somewhere on the Border, published in 2012.

Ivan Vladislavić described the book as “chillingly brutal and grimly humorous all at once” and said: “Somewhere on the Border detonates in the present like a long-dormant mine. Since its first staging in the early 80s, Akerman’s play has lost none of its explosive power.”

Wits University Press’ publisher Veronica Klipp said that she was delighted by the news of the award.

Adjudicators Karen Batley and Glenda Holcroft noted that this Somewhere on the Border a harrowing, dark reminder of the South African Border War, which is possibly more disturbing years later than at its original performances. They said that we re-live the trauma of those [dreadful apartheid] years because “our memories [are] forcibly stirred from where we had conveniently buried them”.

The adjudicators described the play’s action and language as “violent and realistic” and said that the characters were “convincing” because “they are drawn from experience”.

The prizegiving ceremony will take place at the Institute for African Renaissance Studies in Pretoria on Tuesday, 28 April, 2015.

Presentation of the awards will be followed by a Commemorative Lecture for the late Nadine Gordimer, 1991 Nobel Laureate and English Academy of South Africa patron. The lecture entitled “The Fiction of Nadine Gordimer: An Historical Presentiment” will be delivered by the University of the Witwatersrand‘s Professor Michael Titlestad.

The English Academy awards are sponsored by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and administered by the English Academy of Southern Africa. They are awarded biennially.

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John Kani Recalls Meeting Nelson Mandela: “He Called Me the Native Who Caused All the Trouble”

Nothing But the TruthLiving theatre legend and author of Nothing But the Truth John Kani is one of the 21 Icons featured in Adrian Steirn’s eponymous project.

During a recent event hosted by the City of Tshwane in honour of this project and aimed at raising funds for the charities of the icons’ preference, News24 spoke to Kani about his iconic career and his inclusion in this project.

Kani also shared his personal memories of Nelson Mandela, the original icon featured by Steirn. “I say to my great-grandchildren that I lived at the same time as Nelson Mandela. That enough is an achievement. I met him when he came out of prison and he called me ‘the native who caused all the trouble’,” Kani said.

Watch the video for more on Kani’s relationship with Madiba, his career, this project and his outlook on South Africa:

YouTube Preview Image

To see Steirn’s work, and the spectacular feature on Kani, visit the 21 Icons website:

“I realised that I could use the stage, I could use art, and I could use theatre as power to continue my struggle for liberation.”

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Podcast: How Much Should Actors Earn? John Kani Comments on Generations Strike

Nothing But the TruthVeteran actor, playwright, and author of Nothing But the Truth John Kani lends his voice of support to the Generations actors who have been fired after they went on strike for higher salaries.

Kani speaks to John Robbie on Talk Radio 702 about how actors in South Africa continue to be underpaid.

Kani says the idea that the Generations actors are easily replaceable is a myth. These actors have earned their stripes through “true experience, academic training and hard work”.

Listen to the podcast:

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John Kani Compares his New Play Missing to Nothing But the Truth

Nothing But the TruthJohn Kani, actor, playwright and author, says the same DNA runs through both Nothing But the Truth and his new play, Missing.

Missing focuses on how Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 affected those ANC members living in exile in Europe.

Kani says his most recent play looks at the dynamic between politics – “conspiracy, intrigue and betrayal by his own comrades” and a family having to return to an unfamiliar “home”.

Is it a companion piece to Nothing But The Truth, in the sense that you told the story of return from those left behind. Now you are telling the story from the point of view of the returnees.

No, but there is a DNA thread … you right, he [Robert in >Missing like Sipho in Nothing But the Truth] is also looking at his age, his daughter is going to get married, there is a custom we need to do as Xhosas … Mrs Thabo Mbeki, after seeing the play [Nothing But the Truth], said to me: “John, not all of us were like Themba in exile. Some of us struggled and suffered, especially us women who stayed in these one-roomed flats, never with your husband. I’d love to tell you that story one day” …

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John Kani’s New Play Missing Tackles Apartheid Exiles’ Relationship with “Home”

Nothing But the TruthJohn Kani, actor, playwright and author of Nothing But the Truth, discusses his latest play, Missing.

Speaking to Yazeed Kamaldien from City Press, Kani says he drew heavily on his political past for his latest work, which will be at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg from 4 June. In it he plays a fictional figure named Robert Khalipa, who served the ANC for three decades in exile in Sweden. He expects to be handed a position in parliament under Nelson Mandela and then Thabo Mbeki, but is not called back to South Africa.

Kani says the play tackles the complex relationship apartheid exiles had with “home”:

When Nelson Mandela was released in 1990, it was arranged that a group of these exiles would come home and be part of this negotiating team. And be part of the whole setup structure of the government this side.

Somehow, his name was missing on this list. He could not work out why his name was not on this list. He spends all these years in exile, trying to ask himself: ‘What did I do, what did I not do? What did I say that could be the reason I was left out?’

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