ZakesMokae

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theatre in America:
1960s and 1970s

Mokae moved to America and continued his theatre success, both with revivals of Blood Knot (as the play was retitled from The Blood Knot,  after a rewrite by Fugard to bring it to a manageable length) and modern American plays.

 

Wole Soyinka  The Trials of Brother Jero 1966

Wole Soyinka cover

Mokae played Jeroboam in a production by Athol Fugard at The Round House in South Africa and Inglewood Playhouse in California.  The Times (17 June 1966) says "... a satirical comedy, featuring a cunning prophet (played by Zaikes Mokae) whose brand of Christianity works to his own advantage".  Note the misspelling of Zakes.

 

 

Athol Fugard Blood Knot 1971

Zakes Mokae and Ian Bannen in Blod Knot by Fugard

Another revival of Blood Knot.  Photo of Mokae in Blood Knot from Theatre Winter 1982.

 

 

Athol Fugard  Boesman and Lena 1970 and 1971

Boesman and Lena

Mary Benson in Bare Stage quotes Fugard "I've dredged up a trio of real derelicts this time. I'm called Boesman, the woman is Lena and the third character is something of an indeterminate verminous and dying age called Outa". Benson says she realised the play, from 1969, had its roots in Fugard´s relationship with his wife Sheila.  Mokae was not in the South African premiere, but in the NY version in 1970 directed by John Berry with the minor role of Outa, playing alongside James Earl Jones.  When the play transferred to the Royal Court in London on 19 Aug 1971 Mokae took over the lead role of Boesman.

Zakes Mokae in Boesman and Lena

 

 

Eugene O'Neill  The Emperor Jones 1971

Emperor Jones

James Earl Jones has the lead role of an emperor of the Caribbean and his downfall. Mokae plays Lem.  The play is almost a monologue for James Earl Jones, who is excellent in the role, resonating like Orson Welles. Mokae´s role is in Act VIII with slight dialogue.  Stefan Gierasch and Osceola Archer also appear.  Directed by Theodore Mann.

James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones

 

 

Ronald Ribman Fingernails Blue as Flowers 1971-72

Mokae as the waiter alongside Albert Paulsen, Pamela Shaw, Larry Block and Karli Dwyer.  Martin Fried directed at The American Place.  The play is by Ronald Ribman.

 

 

Lorraine Hansberry A Raisin in the Sun 1972

Zakes Mokae A Raisin in the Sun

Hansberry´s play of a black American family who receive $10,000, but each member has other ideas on what to do with the money.  Mokae plays Joseph Asagai, the African who questions why the black women straighten their hair and reject their heritage.  There is an audio cassette available of the performance.  Mokae´s voice is of course superb.

Zakes Mokae in A Raisin in the Sun

 

 

Anton Chekhov  The Cherry Orchard 1973

Produced as part of the NY Shakespeare Festival at Public Theatre.  Mokae plays the old servant Firs.

 

 

Ronald Tavel  The Last Days of British Honduras 1974

Produced as part of the NY Shakespeare Festival at The American Place.

 

 

Evan Blake  Mid-Century Blues 1977

A one-act play that take audience members back to a time when the Blues and Big Band comforted a nation at war.  Zakes Mokae directed, at the Winchester Centre.

 
  

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