John Kani to thrill fans in a play in Durban

Veteran playwright John Kani is in Durban for Kunene and the King play which is already showing at Playhouse theatre. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams. .

Veteran playwright John Kani is in Durban for Kunene and the King play which is already showing at Playhouse theatre. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams. .

Published Jun 27, 2022


Durban — Veteran actor and playwright John Kani is expected to thrill Durban theatre fans the whole week in a play called Kunene and the king.

The play started on Saturday at the Playhouse theatre in Durban and will run until Sunday.

Playhouse Company chief executive officer and artistic director Linda Bukhosini said they were thrilled to have a home-brewed production that featured the best of South African talent, adding that it was locally initiated and produced by some of South Africa’s best talent.

She said this remarkable play was directed by Janice Honeyman, and stars John Kani and Michael Richard, with music performed by Lungiswa Plaatjies.

“How do you put a nation’s history on stage? In this remarkable play, John Kani – as formidable a writer as he is an actor – does it through a confrontation between two men who represent polarised aspects of the South African experience.

“Marking 25 years since the country’s first post-apartheid democratic elections, the play becomes an exploration of race, class, politics, theatre and the potentially unifying power of Shakespeare,” said Bukhosini.

Michael Richard plays Jack Morris, a cantankerous old actor who hopes to overcome severe liver cancer to get to Cape Town to play King Lear. Kani himself is Lunga Kunene, a retired career actor assigned by an agency to tend to this querulous thespian.

While claiming to be apolitical, Morris embodies the reflex attitudes of white supremacy and consistently, when talking to Kunene, refers to “you people”. Although refusing to be a spokesman, Kunene recounts how his dreams of being a doctor were thwarted, not so much by his Soweto upbringing as by the vengefulness of “comrades” towards his storekeeper father for seeking to transcend the divisions of the apartheid era.

The play, penned by Kani is set 25 years after the country’s first post-apartheid democratic elections and tackles head-on the personal implications of the supposed new equality. Listed among the top 10 best plays produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 60 years, Kani was presented with the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award in 2021.

“Kani said Kunene and the King has been a special gift to him as a writer. He said he wrote the play to deal with some questions he had within himself, adding that after he finished writing the play he sent it to his friend, Sir Anthony Sher, at the Royal Shakespeare Company because he had him in mind to play this wonderful character. He said he and Jack Morris had opened the play at Stratford in April 2019.

“What a joy! What a celebration! We transferred to the Fugard Theatre for a few performances, and then we took the West End by storm,” said Kani.

Tickets to this rich and raw exploration of race, class, and politics can be bought at Webtickets, Pick n Pay or at The Playhouse Company’s box office at 031369 9540 for only R120.

Five lucky readers stand a chance to win two tickets to this play. To enter, SMS DNKING your name and surname to 33258. SMS costs R1.50 Competition closes on Tuesday.

Daily News