Ramolao Makhene Festival
Doyen of theatre to be remembered

22 November 2016

A man who made a major contribution to the quality of South African theatre and improved its working conditions will be remembered in the Ramolao Makhene Storytelling Festival.

The festival is set to become annual storytelling feast, and this year will be its debut, with theatrical performances, poetry, jazz, praise singers and a photography exhibition.

Spearheading the event is a committee that includes actress and theatre teacher Vanessa Cooke, director Zenzi Mbuli, actor Mpho ‘Fats’ Molepo, and Ramoloa Makhene’s son Tlale Makhene, a jazz musician and poet. The event is also backed by the A-Z Art Centre, which was founded by Ziphilele ‘Speech’ Mayiji, a former student of Makhene’s at the Market Theatre Laboratory.

Makhene was born on 1 February, 1947 and grew up in Soweto. He began acting in the early 70s when he was working in the library at Wits University and joined the Workshop’ 71 theatre company.

He joined the Junction Avenue Theatre Company in 1976 and contributed significantly to the creation of plays such as Randlords and Rotgut, Security, Marabi, Sophiatown and Love, Crime and Johannesburg.

He was one of the first members of the film collective Free Film Makers, although he was more comfortable in front of the camera than behind it. With this company he made a charming film called When I Eat Chocolate I Remember You.         

As a professional actor, he contributed to a number of significant national and international productions, including Nongogo, Master Harold and the Boys, Custom of the Country, The Black Age and A Street Car Named Desire, amongst others.

He was the first president of PAWE (Performing Artists Workers Equity) and served for two years, during which he attempted to improve the quality of life and working conditions for the acting fraternity.

Makhene became a drama teacher at the Market Theatre Laboratory through his passion to help young upcoming artists. He had a tremendous love for children and taught them discipline and manners among other skills.

He taught at the Laboratory for many years, influencing many students who became prominent actors, directors and producers, including Kenneth Nkosi, Mpho Molepo, Pule Hlatshwayo, Harriet Manamela, Mncedisi Shabangu and Ronnie Nyakale. He also offered informal drama lessons to community theatre organisations throughout the country. Makhene dedicated his life to the youth through skills development, confidence building and life coaching.

The Storytelling Festival will open with a 15-minute video showing his acting career in both film and theatre.

VENUE: The Market Theatre Laboratory @ Ramolao Makhene Theatre

Date:  27 November 2016

Time: 13: 00 pm Sunday 27 November 2016