From 10-21 May, Soweto audiences will be charmed by the talented Sello Maake kaNcube in The House of Truth, Can Themba’s bio play.
Written by Siphiwo Mahala and directed by Vanessa Cooke, the play premiered to full houses and rave reviews at the 2016 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, then went to the Market Theatre. Laced with wit, humour and a deep sense of irony, it reveals the circumstances that inspired some of Themba’s most intriguing works and covers profound aspects of his life that are rarely written about.
Themba’s complex life story, including his troubles with the Transvaal Department of Education, which refused to recognize him as a qualified teacher despite his degree is interwoven with how he turned to journalism, rising through the ranks of Drum magazine to become an Assistant Editor, but without with any financial reward. These frustrations are shared from his abode, the House of Truth, a single-room bachelor flat in Sophiatown in the 1950’s.
The House of Truth was Themba’s way of cocking a snook at snobbery, officialdom and anything that smacked of bureaucracy. He hosted candid debates where anyone irrespective of race or social class was welcomed to participate in intellectual engagement.
Acted by one of South Africa’s most accomplished and internationally revered actors, Sello Maake kaNcube, who will be performing for the first time at Soweto Theatre and directed by Vanessa Cooke, a theatre legend in her own right.
Themba would have turned 93 years in 2017, but died at 43. He passed away on 8 September 1967, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of his passing. Themba is one of the most illustrious alumni of the centenary old Fort Hare University. Others were Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Govan Mbeki and at least three African Heads of State: Seretse Khama (Botswana), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and Yusuf Lule (Uganda).
The House of Truth celebrates South African artistic excellence. It will inspire Sowetans, young and old alike.” Makhaola Ndebele, Joburg City Theatres Artistic Manager
Snippets from Reviews:
- “The play is seen as hope to bridge the [racial] divide” – SABC News
- “A hit with the audiences!” – ECNA Headline
- “This is work which stretches across the epochs. There are many moments where you swear Themba is talking about now, not then.” – Journalist Mike Louw
- “The House of Truth is riveting, absolutely brilliant.” – Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Arts and Culture (via twitter)
The play examines themes such as media ownership, exploitation and editorial independence (Sam Mathe, Jazz Life)