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theatre in London: 1960s

Mokae had to move to London to escape apartheid and develop his acting career.  The success of Angel Feathers and particularly The Blood Knot helped establish him.  He studied at London's RADA theatre school and also appeared in various Shakespeare, though in the 1960s the roles for black actors in Shakespeare were limited to the chorus or such roles, and even the role of Othello was the preserve of white actors blackened up.  In Macbeth at the Royal Court Theatre Mokae was interestingly one of the witches.


J.A. Brown  Angel Feathers on the Roof 1962

Performed in Johannesburg and then revived in London in 1962.  Mokae directed.



Athol Fugard  The Blood Knot 1963

When the play came to London in 1963 John Berry directed Mokae and Ian Bannen.  It was regularly revived.  Charles Marovitz's review from Plays and Players 1963 criticises Ian Bannen as "achieving the Africaan accent at the expense of the character" and of Mokae "only the passages of solo emotion came off".  The reviewer also manages to misspell the first names of both Mokae and Fugard.

The Bloodknot Ian Bannen Zakes Mokae

The photo is of Ian Bannen and Mokae from Plays and Players April 1963, photo by Lewis Morley.

Fugard Mokae Blood Knot



Shakespeare  Macbeth 1966

Macbeth Alec Guinness

Mokae as one of the three witches in a modern dress production with Alec Guinness as Macbeth. It was presented at the Royal Court from 20 Oct 1966 for 32 performances. It was the most successful Royal Court production in the year, despite film actress Simone Signoret having problems with the role of Lady Macbeth.  The director was William Gaskill who staged it in modern dress with almost no scenery and bright lights throughout.  Jomoke Debayo and Femi Euba were the other two witches.  Photos from Plays and Players December 1966.

Macbeth three witches Zakes Mokae



Shakespeare  The Tempest and Othello 1961-1969

More Shakespeare in London.   More information is welcome.


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