Monday, 27 April 2009

Brief on John Kani

Bonsile John Kani (1943 -) is a South African actor, director and playwright.

He was born in New Brighton, South Africa.

Kani joined The Serpent Players (a group of actors whose first performance was in the former snake pit of the zoo, hence the name) in Port Elizabeth in 1965 and helped to create many plays that went unpublished but were performed to a resounding reception.

These were followed by the more famous Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island, co-written with Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona, in the early 1970s. He also received an Olivier nomination for his role in My Children My Africa!

Kani's work has been widely performed around the world, including New York, where he and Winston Ntshona won a Tony Award in 1975 for Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and The Island. These two plays were presented in repertory at the Edison Theatre for a total of 52 performances.

Nothing but the Truth (2002) was his debut as sole playwright and was first performed in the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. This play takes place in post-apartheid South Africa and does not concern the conflicts between whites and blacks, but the rift between blacks who stayed in South Africa to fight apartheid, and those who left only to return when the hated regime folded. It won the 2003 Fleur du Cap Awards for best actor and best new South African play. In the same year he was also awarded a special Obie award for his extraordinary contribution to theatre in the USA.

Kani is executive trustee of the Market Theatre Foundation, founder and director of the Market Theatre Laboratory and chairman of the National Arts Council of SA.

Kani's son, Atandwa, is also an actor and made his first debt in U.S. television on the now canceled CW series Life Is Wild.

Kani has also received the Avanti Hall of Fame Award from the South African film, television and advertising industries, an M-Net Plum award and a Clio award in New York. Other awards include the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace & Culture Award for the year 2000. He was voted 51st in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004. In 2006he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cape Town.

24th March Richmond Theatre

Matthew Hahn gave the first public read through of his new play The Robben Island Bible at Richmond Theatre, to which he gave drama's students the chance to to listen to 3 amazing actors read through his script as well as a Q&A session after the reading, which was thoroughly entertaining, thought provoking and educational.

it was fantastic listening to Jon Kani read, and the relationship between him and his son was dynamic, to which you could see and feel from the stage. His presence on stage was powerful, that you found yourself believing and feeling everything he said. i could have stayed there listening to him for hours!! he was so inspirational and his stories were absolutely brilliant!

The play was a verbatim play and one which takes the Shakespeare quotes from which the Robben Island prisoners had highlighted and dated, as quotes that have personal meanings, to which no quote was marked twice!! He also did one on one interviews with survivors, touching on personal stories.

I found myself complately engaged and enjoyed this as an experience which I feel cannot be repeated and feel honoured to have been there.

24th Feb Chiswick House

We went to Chiswick House to see what we had to work with in preparation for the schools' show in May. We got a tour given to us from a member of staff, Not only for health and safety purposes (building was still in progress) but also so that any questions we may have had could have been answered there and then. I have to say i cannot believe i have never been there before. as far as staging goes, the place is amazing!! and should be great to create an magical atmosphere of mystery and fun.

there were plenty of areas in the park that would make an amazing set to play with. there were buildings in the park that even appeared to be grecian/egyptian, which can be placed within our play, as we are going for mystical and magical with egytaian myths and legends as our initial stimulus.
Also not forgetting the tree. which generated much excitement amongst our group! watch this space....

19th Feb. Mask Workshop.

Today we had our mask workshop and though it was extremely fun and of course new talents were learnt (that rolling newspaper into a stick machine, which coincidently was totally awesome!) was left a little disappointed, as even though we demonstrated good team work and work well to make an absolutely massive paper masche mask (boy did i forget how messy that is!) i felt that it would have been great to make loads of little ones and all let our imaginations go on uor own to see what varieties we could have come up with as a group! would have been amazing to see what all the invididuals would have come up with!