The House of Truth


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. Flowing from the pen of author 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.