South Africa Theatre

Bloke Modisane, Langston Hughes inspired play for Johannesburg.

Bloke and His American Bantu, inspired by Bloke Modisane and Langston Hughes, will run in Johannesburg from February 16-26, 2022. The February 17 performance will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Sello Maake kaNcube, Dr Siphiwo Mahala, Dr Hannah Sadiki, and moderated by Time Modise.

The University of Johannesburg in association with the Sello Maake kaNcube Foundation is proud to present the phenomenal stage play, Bloke and His American Bantu. Written by Dr Siphiwo Mahala, and directed by Sello Maake kaNcube, this play deftly explores a simple friendship that led to international solidarity and cultural exchange between South Africa and Black America.    

The show relives the camaraderie that developed between Bloke Modisane and Langston Hughes, writers and activists from Sophiatown, South Africa, and Harlem in New York, respectively. The story is set in the 1960s, when Modisane was exiled in London, and Hughes through his contacts in the US, organised a lecture series for him in various states across the US. This play traces the intellectual discourse that transpired between the two scribes from 1960 to 1967, a period during which they exchanged well over 50 letters. 

The character of Bloke Modisane is channelled through exquisite acting by the little known but abundantly talented Anele Nene, who hails from Durban. The 25-year-old Nene studied Performing Arts and Production and won the Ovation Award at the 2020 National Arts Festival for his one man show ‘The Hymns of a Sparrow’. Nene stars alongside multi-award winning theatre and television writer, actor and director, Josias Dos Moleele, who plays the role of Hughes. Moleele appeared in two international movies – ‘Invictus’ directed by Clint Eastwood and a BBC television series ‘Strike Back’. 

The chemistry between the two actors is palpable as they bring to life a slice of history that is little known about the bonds that connected the South African liberation struggle with black America. It shines the spotlight on the role of artists and intellectuals in forging international solidarity during one of the darkest hours in the history of South Africa.

Bloke and His American Bantu will be on stage from February 16-26, 2022. The shows start at 19:00 every day, except Sunday and Monday.

By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

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