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Powerhouse team re-united for CT run of 'Kunene and the King'

1 May 2019 5:09 PM
South African-born theatre luminaries John Kani and Sir Anthony Sher join John Maytham in studio to talk about Kani's new play.

Theatre icon John Kani's new play 'Kunene and the King' has started its Cape Town run, fresh from its premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon where it opened to glowing reviews from the UK's theatre critics.

Kani also stars in the two-hander, together with Sir Anthony Sher, another South African-born theatre luminary.

They joined John Maytham to talk about the production and Kani shares how it all came about.

In 2009 we were doing 'The Tempest' together, with Tony, in London. He played Prospero and I played Caliban and I felt we did not get enough time to be together. The roles are far apart - you come in and go..

John Kani, Actor and playwright

I said to Tony I'd like to write something for the two of us. I have an idea about an actor who needs looking after.

John Kani, Actor and playwright

It was only this year, ten years later, that Kani contacted Sher about the new play, sending him a script to read.

It just spoke to me very powerfully on many levels.

Anthony Sher, Actor

As a South African, it's fascinating, but also there is a lot about Shakespeare it it, because my character is planning to play King Lear.

Anthony Sher, Actor

Sher's partner, Gregory Doran, is the artistic director of the UK's Royal Shakespeare Company and the new play eventually premiered at the company’s Swan Theatre in the town known as William Shakespeare's birthplace.

I thought he might be interested in this fresh, African take on Shakespeare, and he was.

Anthony Sher, Actor

Sher elaborates on the character of the actor that he plays, and the references to Shakespeare.

He is very ill and there's a wonderful line in 'King Lear' about the smell of mortality. We use that a few times in the play and that sense of someone who is very ill, being able to smell their own mortality.

Anthony Sher, Actor

The play's full of that kind of human experience, human detail which takes it beyond just being a political play into one that people can identify with.

Anthony Sher, Actor

'Kunene and the King', with renowned director Janice Honeyman at the helm, is on at Cape Town's Fugard Theatre until 25 May.

To hear the rest of this fascinating interview with Kani and Sher, listen below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Powerhouse team re-united for CT run of 'Kunene and the King'


1 May 2019 5:09 PM