Dr. John Kani interviews with TV Plus

02 Apr 2012 in Show Press Releases

Press Release - Dr. John Kani interviews with TV Plus

TV Plus interview with Dr. John Kani

South Africa’s acting legend, Dr John Kani The grandfather of South African theatre — Dr John Kani — chatted to tvplus about his new W series, fame and family. BY EMMA LIWELA. PHOTOS: GALLO IMAGES, GETTY IMAGES. When we first heard that South African acting legend Dr John Kani was going to star in a telenovela (that’s a Spanish term for a soapie with a planned ending), we were surprised and perhaps even a bit worried that he’d left the stage that has made him so famous. But after watching the first few episodes of Inkaba on Mzansi Magic, we’re convinced that Dr Kani can do just about anything. His performances are every bit as brilliant as ever. “I am a thespian and it’s my duty to be able to act in any production. I have done everything, from movies to theatre to television,” Dr Kani tells tvplus. Wearing one of his character’s signature silk robes, Dr Kani met with tvplus at the Urban Brew Studios in Johannesburg, where Inkaba is being shot. The critically acclaimed and internationally recognised actor ushered us into a meeting room for a quick chat between sets. And what a chat it was, as Dr Kani took us on an exciting journey through his life as an actor, a father and a husband. When he joined The Serpent Players (a group of young actors) in 1965, Dr Kani could never have guessed that his career would take him around the world, where he’d dine with presidents and win some of the most prestigious awards in his industry. During the apartheid era, protest theatre was a risky business, but that never stopped him from delivering honest performances in plays like Sizwe Basi Is Dead, Master Harold And The Boys, and Saturday Night At The Palace. “These were hard times for actors because we were not even recognised by the law and some of the plays that were written were banned. But there were a few of us who persevered and followed our calling,” he tells us. It was this unwavering passion for the arts that led Dr Kani and Winston Ntshona to New York City in 1975, where they won a Tony Award for Sizwe Bansi Is Dead and The Island. “We performed those two plays 52 times at the Edison Theatre. I will never forget that time of my life; it was like a dream. I was an instant star after winning the Tony Award,” Dr Kani explains. After a few years of touring France, England, America and a string of other countries, the novelty began to wear off and the actor realised that he was becoming distant from the struggles on the ground… He missed his family and his love of storytelling. It was around this time that Dr Kani and Athol Fugard founded The Market Theatre, followed by The Market Theatre Laboratory, a drama school situated in what 26 4 April 2012 tvplus facebook.com/tvplus

To this day, Dr Kani serves as executive trustee of The Market Theatre Foundation, director of The Market Theatre Laboratory, and chairman of the National Arts Council of South Africa. If you thought that his only job at Inkaba is to play Mkhuseli, the charismatic patriarch of the Mthetho clan, think again. The show is his brainchild, and while telenovelas are popular in countries like Brazil and Portugal, Inkaba is the first of its kind in South Africa. “M-Net was looking to commission a new show, so I came up with the idea of a Romeo And Juliet-like story of two young lovers who were caught up in the sins of their fathers. Just like the Montagues and Capulets, the Mthethos and Khumalos have a feud that goes way back…” So, what’s life like for such a famous man when he’s off stage and out of the limelight? Does he get bombarded at the shops? Do the paparazzi follow him around? “I live a very normal life. I can go shopping in Sandton or Southgate and people don’t bother me. People are very respectful of my privacy, but when someone steps out of line, I give him the look that says ‘that’s enough’,” he says with a hearty laugh. While Dr Kani’s life may seem impossibly busy, he always finds time for his family. He and wife Mandi have been married for 50 Gaffil Dr Kani with Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona years and have eight children. “A man must know where his responsibility lies, and for me, it’s my family. A few years ago I made the decision not to take projects that will keep me away from home longer than eight weeks at a time.” It seems that Dr Kani’s found the perfect balance between home and work, and that’s what has made him so successful as an actor and a family man for the last 57 years. Here’s to many more for the good doctor. 0 Fast Facts Dr Kani also came up with the show Khumbul’Ekhaya. He has performed for four South African presidents: Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma. The acting icon has received eight Lifetime Achievement Awards during his career, locally and internationally. His son Atandwa is also an actor and they have worked together twice. Dr Kani refuses to read reviews about his work. Sizwe Banzi Is Dead

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