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Arts & Culture/Theater
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Nothing But the Truth
by Mera Beckford
and Dominique Roberts

South African native, John Kani has new a play in America. It goes by the title of Nothing but the Truth. The play stars John Kani himself as Sipho Makhaya, Warona Seane as Thando Makhaya, and Esmeralda Bihl as Mandisa MacKay.
The play is about an elderly gentleman, by the name of Sipho Makhaya, living with his daughter and awaiting a well-deserved promotion after working for several years at a library in South Africa as chief librarian. After living in England for the better part of life Sipho’s brother returns home for a funeral. This causes an eruption of emotion within the Makhaya household.
The play is based on actual events that occurred during the turbulent life of John Kani who was living in South Africa during the very publicized apartheid conflict.
The play started out as a simple letter to his deceased brother who, during the apartheid, was shot and killed at the funeral of a 9-year-old girl. He was a poet who read at several events for civil rights and was only 25-years-old at the time of his death.
Kani had no closure after his brother’s untimely death, and as anyone probably would, thought that it was “a waste of young life”, in his words.
John Kani is a talented playwright, actor and director. Probably best know to New York audiences for his 1975 Tony award winning performances in The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead. He even reprised his role in the recent world tour of The Island, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and in Toronto where it won a Toronto Theatre Award for best production. In June he was awarded an Obie Award for his contribution to theatre. In 1990 he won an AA Life Vita Award for his performances in many notable productions at South Africa’s Market Theatre.
Esmeralda Bihl, who acts in John Kani’s new play, comes to the stage once again. Her first appearance in front of an audience in 1995 in Athol Fugard’s Valley Song, which toured the world, won her a Vita Award for most promising new actress and a nomination for best supporting actress. A Coloured Place (2002) won her an additional Vita nomination for best actress in a comedy. Bihl also toured the UK in Janet Suzman’s of The Cherry Orchard. Bihl has been seen in a wide variety of television shows and movies in South Africa, and hopefully we’ll see more of her here in America.
And last but not least the beautiful Warona Seane, who graduated in 1999 from the University of Cape Town and since then she’s been very busy taking part in several theatre, film and television projects. Three years ago she co-wrote and directed Sacred Thorn which was showcased at the National Arts Festival. She has also directed and written productions of her own,and the list goes on and on.
One audience member, who was kind enough to contribute their time to answer some of our questions told us that she thought the play had a powerful message and it was vital for other races as well to witness the struggles of south Africa. In agreement with her, we think that everyone should go see this play.
Overall, it was an astounding play with an even more astounding message. The cast did an excellent job of getting it across to the audience with feeling and conviction. Talented and well rounded this makes up an award winning production.


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