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theatre in America: 1980s

Mokae continues his film and theatre career simultaneously, and acts in a number of Fugard plays.


Yordan Radichkov   Attempt at Flying 1980

Performed at the Yale Repertory Company.  The director was Maladen Kiselov and scene designer was Michael Yeargen.  Mokae played Sweet Basil.

"This is a folk fable about dreams blockaded by a repressive society. It is a picaresque comedy - a wild balloon chase - a sardonic political satire and a serious overview of mankind trying to escape from reality" (New York Times, Mel Gussow, 7 July 1981).

Yordan Radichkov   Attempt at Flying 1980
The image comes from here.



Athol Fugard  A Lesson from Aloes 1980, 1981

A Lesson from Aloes

First performed in 1978 the play was written in the 1960s. Fugard directed the premiere in Johannesburg. He directed Zakes Mokae and James Earl Jones in the play (Mokae as understudy).  In 1981 Fugard directed Maria Tucci, Harris Yulin and Zakes Mokae at the Playhouse Theatre.  The play seems to start off as a domestic drama with husband and wife Piet and Gladys expecting visitors.  Piet´s life was changed when he joined a political demonstration, but now he is suspected of being a police informer. The visitor Steve is an activist but he is giving up his politics to go into exile. They meet to say goodbye. But Gladys has her own torments.



Athol Fugard  Master Harold...and the Boys 1982

Master Harold

Based on a childhood incident when Fugard spat at a servant. The play, from 1982, was rated number 50 on the Royal National Theatre´s most significant plays of the twentieth century.  Mokae played Sam in the premiere at Yale in 1982 and received a Tony award for his performance.  He also starred in the film version.  Danny Glover is Willie and Lonny Price is Hally.

Lonny Price, Zakes Mokae, Danny Glover in Master Harold

"Master Harold's conclusion is one of the most powerful that Broadway has experienced in many seasons, and the play itself is alternately funny and incisive, never less than absorbing.  The performances of Mokae, Glover and Price, under the author's direction, are virtually flawless".  The quote is by Catherine Hughes in Plays and Players, July 1982.  The photo is from the same magazine.  The photo below shows Danny Glover and Zakes Mokae. From Theatre Winter 1982.

Mokae and Danny Glover in Blood Knot



Athol Fugard  Blood Knot 1985

Mokae and Fugard in Blood Knot

Fugard rewrote his early success (with a slight name change), bringing it to a manageable performance length.  This 25th anniversary revival was again staged with Fugard and Mokae to great success all over the world.  The cartoon of Mokae and Fugard is from the Hirschfeld archive- click on the image for the link.

click for link



Alexandre Dumas  The Count of Monte Cristo 1985

alexandre dumas

A stage version of Alexandre Dumas´ novel directed by Peter Sellars by the American National Theater.  It ran between 9 May and 22 Jun 1985.  Richard Thomas, Roscoe Lee Browne, Patti LuPone and Michael O'Keefe acted alongside Zakes Mokae.  Mokae played M. Gerard de Villefort.  "The casting of Zakes Mokae, an actor closely associated with the plays of Athol Fugard, brought to The Count of Monte Cristo a sense that the drama might reflect the present situation in South Africa". The quotation comes from here:



Athol Fugard  Boesman and Lena 1985

Boesman and Lena revisited, this time directed by Mokae at Centerstage, Baltimore. 


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