John Kani flexes his pen once more with ‘Missing…’

John Kani flexes his pen once more with ‘Missing…’

As South Africa marks 20 years of democracy ‘Missing…’, the latest play by esteemed South African actor, director and playwright John Kani, will have its world premiere at the Baxter Theatre on February 27, with the production running until March 29. ‘Missing…’ is Tony-award-winning Kani’s first full-length play since ‘Nothing But the Truth’ in 2002, which received numerous accolades locally and abroad.

Once again he teams up with theatre bluebloods Janice Honeyman (director) and Mannie Manim (lighting designer) to bring to life this new South African love story and political thriller. The three have worked together for nearly 30 years and they last collaborated at the Baxter on the international hit production ‘The Tempest’, produced by the Baxter and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Patrick Curtis (set) and Birrie le Roux (costumes) complete the formidable team. The cast features Kani as Robert Khalipa, Susan Danford as his Swedish wife, Anna Ohlson, and newcomer Buhle Ngaba as their daughter, Ayanda, a medical student.

Apollo Ntshoko plays Peter Tshabalala, a young comrade and Robert’s assistant in the ANC office in Stockholm. Robert has been living in exile in Stockholm for over 30 years with his wife (who has inherited her father’s large electronic and communications company) and their daughter Ayanda, who was born there. They are a happy family, but this is all about to change. Something that Robert has been waiting for all his life while in exile has finally happened: Mandela has been released. South Africa is on the road to democracy. Going home has become a reality. But where is home? Instead of a celebration, this new situation becomes the catalyst that threatens to break up the Khalipa family. To add insult to injury, Robert is not called by the ANC to come home and be part of the negotiations.

What follows is a plot full of intrigue, lies, backstabbing, conspiracy and political in-fighting. How can the release of Nelson Mandela be the reason for this family to break up? “I am very excited to present my latest play at the Baxter since we have such a long and wonderful history of creating theatre together for our very own local and international audiences,” says Kani. “It always feels like a home-coming for me to perform here and in Cape Town. This is where we launched ‘Nothing But the Truth’ more than a decade ago,” adds the four-time honorary doctorate recipient. Kani’s list of awards which he has received in his career for his performances as well as for his contribution to the arts is impressive and has garnered great praise earning him respect and veneration worldwide.

He holds an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Durban Westville, an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town, as well as an Honorary Doctorate from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for his contribution to the arts and to the struggle for the liberation of his country. In 2005 he received the Order of Ikhamanga – the highest recognition in South Africa – from President Thabo Mbeki. Over the years Kani has performed at the Baxter in productions such as ‘Sizwe Banzi is Dead’, ‘The Island’, ‘My Children My Africa’, ‘Miss Julie’, ‘Waiting for Godot’, ‘Antigone’ and ‘Hamlet’. “Working on the script has been like restoring and fine-tuning a classy classic instrument – it is equally exciting, challenging and exacting,” says director Honeyman. * Performances will take place at 8pm nightly. Book at Computicket.