Dates to remember
The House of Truth
by Siphiwo Mahala | Starring Sello Maake Ncube | Directed by Vanessa Cook
The House of Truth is a bio-play based on Can Themba’s life. The production premiered at the prestigious Grahamstown National Arts Festival June 2016 to rave reviews and sold-out shows. It opened the 2017 Market Theatre season to sold-out shows. Flowing from the pen of Grahamstown-born writer, Siphiwo Mahala, and starring the venerable Sello Maake kaNcube, the play is laced with wit, humour and a deep sense of irony. It reveals the circumstances that inspired some of Themba’s most intriguing works as well as some profound aspects of his life that are barely written about. The play weaves together Themba’s complex life story including his troubles with the Transvaal Department of Education, which, in spite of him holding a degree from the University of Fort Hare and passing English with a distinction, refused to recognise him as a fully-fledged teacher. His decision to register for a University Education Diploma with Rhodes University brings more frustrations instead of solving his problems. Turning into journalism, Themba rose along the ranks of Drum magazine and became an Assistant Editor, but this did not come with any monetary reward. These are some Themba’s frustrations as he relates his story from his abode, the House of Truth, a single room bachelor flat located at 111 Ray Street, in Sophiatown of the 1950s. With the House of Truth, Themba was opening a platform for candid debate, and all those who were interested in intellectual engagement, black and white, were welcome. According to Stan Motjuwadi, Themba’s former student, the House of Truth was “Can’s way of cocking a snook at snobbery, officialdom and anything that smacked of the formal. Everybody but a snob was welcome at the House of Truth.” This enthralling piece of theatre is presented by one of South Africa’s most accomplished and internationally revered actors.
“This is work which stretches across the epochs. There are many moments where you swear Themba is talking about now, not then.” Journalist Mike
“The play examines themes such as media ownership, exploitation and editorial independence.” Sam Mathe
“The writing is palpably beautiful and you want to hold and savour each turn of phrase.” Robyn Sassen
“The play is seen as hope to bridge the [racial] divide” SABC News
Siphiwo Mahala is a prominent novelist, short story writer and a great admirer of Can Themba’s work. His books include the novel When A Man Cries, which he translated to his native Xhosa language as Yakhal’ Indoda, and African Delights, a collection of short stories which includes one of his most celebrated works, “The Suit Continued,” a rejoinder to Can Themba’s “The Suit.” The House of Truth is his first professional play. He is a doctoral candidate at UNISA with Can Themba as the focus of his research.
Vanessa was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg to a theatrical family. Her father Roy Cooke was a set designer and also managed the Alexander Theatre for many years. Vanessa matriculated at Parktown Convent and then got a BA Degree in English and History of Arts from Wits University. In 1971 she met the director Barney Simon at Dorkay House in Johannesburg. Together with him, Mannie Manim and a group of actors formed the Company and founded the Market Theatre in 1976. In the early nineties Vanessa started working at the Market Theatre Laboratory, the training and development wing of the Market Theatre. She retired from the Lab in 2008. Vanessa is most interested in the development of new South African plays and has contributed to the creation of them over the years. Most recent play directed was SAILING SOMEWHERE with Fiona Ramsay and Tony Bentel at the Theatre on the Square Sandton.
Sello Maake kaNcube is a highly revered South African actor and director. He has performed on some of the most prestigious stages worldwide. Amongst others, he played the title role in the Lion King at London West End and also played the lead role in Othello as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company Tour in Japan. He has won several awards for both directing and performing on stage. This is in addition to numerous roles that he has played in TV dramas and feature films.
For more information contact:
Anam Maleki: 0737688501