Zakes Mokae theatre 1980s
Mr. Mokae… plays Zach with a brooding
Mokae continues his film and theatre career simultaneously, and revives Fugard's Blood Kmot, Master Harold and Boesman & Lena.
Yordan Radichkov's An Attempt at Flying 1980 performed at the Yale Repertory Company from 28 Apr to 16 May 1981, at the Yale Repertory Theatre. The director was Maladen Kiselov and scene designer was Michael Yeargen. Mokae played Sweet Basil.
"Everything in this comical and dramatic story begins with a wandering balloon that broke free from the World War II fronts. It suddenly appears above the rural Avramovi hamlets. The event leads to several groups being formed to go after the balloon." (description from programata here).
"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).
Yale programme images from issuu site here.
Athol Fugard A Lesson from Aloes 1980, 1981
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
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.
Critic Richard Gilman says "Master Harold"... and the boys had a limited run in its world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theatre, but it is certain to come to New York City. One hopes that in its reincarnation it will have the same actors who played Willie and Sam ay Yale. Zakes Mokae as Sam and Danny Glover as Willie are extraordinarily good: they press for nothing, underscore no emotions, but ride easily along the swell of the textual wave. (Nation, 1 May 1982, reproduced in The Drama is Coming Now: The Theatre Criticism of Richard Gilman, Yale University Press, 2005).
Mokae also starred in the film version. Danny Glover is Willie and Lonny Price is Hally.
"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.
Athol Fugard Blood Knot 1985
Fugard rewrote his early success The Blood Knot (with a slight name change to Blood Knot), bringing it to a manageable performance length. This 25th anniversary revival in 1985 at the Yale Repertory Theatre was again performed by Fugard and Mokae.
Mel Gussow writes in the New York Times, 24 Sept 1985:
"… the revival certifies the play's position as a contemporary
classic. As both a deeply human experience and a symbolic statement on
the anguish of apartheid, ''The Blood Knot'' is undiminished in its
Mr. Mokae… plays Zach with a brooding intensity, rising from quiescence to contempt and turning a moment of playacting into a moving recapitulation of the plight of the black man in South Africa.
The two men are carried away by their game, forced into inevitable roles as antagonists. Together, they try to bridge the abyss. Even without a future to look forward to, the brothers cling to hope..."
This production was directed by Athol Fugard. Susan Hilferty was responsible for costimes, Rusty Smith- settings, William B. Warfel- lighting, Margaret Adair- production stage manager.
The cartoon of Mokae and Fugard is from the Hirschfeld archive- click on the image for the link.
Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo 1985
A stage version of the novel by Alexandre Dumas (above) 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:
"Peter Sellars's debut at the Kennedy Center: an audacious The Count
of Monte Cristo Adapted from play by Alexandre Dumas. May 24, 1985
Frank Rich in the new York Time (20 May 1985) is less positive: "Although the cast boasts some excellent actors, they are often encouraged to caricature their past work. The sonorous, apparitional presence of that fine Beckett interpreter David Warrilow is milked for near-parodistic Beckett pastiche. Tony Azito's hysterical clowning, Roscoe Lee Browne's stentorian voice and Miss LuPone's tart sexuality are similarly ill-used. Both Michael O'Keefe and Zakes Mokae seem lost."
Athol Fugard Boesman and Lena 1985
Boesman and Lena revisited, this time directed by Mokae at Centerstage, Baltimore.
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