Bloke & His American Bantu is a two-man play set in the 1960s, that reimagines the camaraderie between two prominent intellectuals, Bloke Modisane and Langston Hughes, writers and activists from Sophiatown and Harlem respectively. The friendship between the two scribes was punctuated with constant visits, phone calls, exchange of gifts and well over 50 letters mailed between 1960 and 1967.
Exquisitely performed by Anele Nene (Bloke) and Josias Dos Moleele (Langston), the play highlights the role of artists and intellectuals in forging international solidarity during one of the darkest hours in the history of South Africa. It exposes the overwhelming nostalgia and the longing for home while living a desolate life in exile, as well as the fortitude and resilience of dreams. This is complemented by an African American’s quest for the reclamation of his black identity and fervent desire to reconnect with the African cultural values, history and aesthetics.
Written by Siphiwo Mahala, and directed by Sello Maake kaNcube, this play brings to life a little-known slice of history. The resultant narrative is both edifying and entertaining as it weaves together brotherly love, intellectual banters and the politics of a historical moment into a captivating experience.
Please note that this is a Rhodes University venue and as such you will be required to show your vaccine certificate or a negative test no older than 72 hours or proof of Covid positive status within the last three months.
Written by: Siphiwo Mahala
Directed by: Sello Maake kaNcube
Starring: Anele Nene, Josias Dos Moleele
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Anele Nene (Bloke Modisane) is a 25-year-old, born and raised in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. From the year 2014-2016 he studied Performing Arts and Production at Creative Arts College. In 2017 he graduated Level 3 VRQ’s Diploma awarded to him by The City and Guilds of London Institute. From 2014 to date, Anele Nene has been cast in many productions. To name a few:
• There Lays Ubuntu. Role: Supporting. Year: 2014. CatalinaTheatre
• Double You. Role: Lead. Year: 2015. Westville Prison.
• Secret Valley of Great Kings. Role: Lead. Year: 2015-2016. Playhouse Company.
• Touch My Blood. Role: Lead. Year: 2018. Playhouse Company.
• Pockets of Knowledge. Role: Lead. Year: 2019. Soweto Theatre.
For this particular run, Anele Nene was nominated for a Naledi Award (Best Newcomer). In the year 2020 Anele Nene went on to perform his very own one-man show The Hymns of a Sparrow (a show written, directed and performed by Anele Nene) which won the Ovation Award at the 2020 National Arts Festival, and played at the Brighton Fringe Festival in the UK. In 2021 he was cast in Sizwe Banzi is Dead (staged at The Playhouse) and he was recently cast in a docu-series by Fuzebox Entertainment as Robert Sobukwe (supporting role), directed by Khethiwe Ngcobo.
Josias Dos Moleele (Langston Hughes) is a theatre/television writer, actor and director. He began his career in 1993 at Tshwane University of Technology drama department; after receiving his B Tech degree in drama he became the first black lecturer at the same institution and taught scriptwriting, acting and directing. He wrote and directed lots of theatre productions including “Call Us Crazy” performed at the Market Theatre and won 3 Vita Awards. Another accolade was his powerful dance musical Tapsula, also performed at the Market Theatre, winning the Naledi Award. His television work includes directing a sitcom for SABC 1 called Nomzamo, and recently Skwizas. Drawn into reality TV, he has researched and directed documentaries for SABC 1 and 2. He has appeared in numerous commercials including Debonairs, Spar, Pampers, Five Roses, to name but a few. He has appeared in 2 international movies – Invictus directed by Clint Eastwood, and a BBC television series Strike Back. He also appeared in a local film by Leon Schuster, Mr. Bones 2, and Land of Milk and Money. He recently trained 85 public school principals in a leadership training workshop in St. Louis, Missouri (USA). Presently Josias is studying towards his Masters degree in drama and has since left TUT Musical Theatre to start his own Arts Academy.
Sello Maake kaNcube – Producer and Director
Sello Maake kaNcube is a highly revered South African actor and director. He has performed on some of the most prestigious stages worldwide. Amongst others, he played the title role in the Lion King at London West End and also played the lead role in Othello as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company Tour in Japan. He has won several awards for both directing and performing on stage. This is in addition to numerous roles that he has played in TV dramas and feature films. In 1994 he won the last DALRO Best Actor Award for his lead role in the very first performance of Can Themba’s “The Suit,” adapted by Mothobi Mutloatse and directed by Barney Simon. He acted in The House of Truth, a one-man play that depicts the life of South African writer and journalist, Can Themba. The play premiered at the 2016 National Arts Festival to sold-out houses and became one of the most grossing shows for the year.
Siphiwo Mahala – Playwright
Siphiwo Mahala is an accomplished short story writer, novelist, playwright and literary scholar who was born and raised in Makhanda. He is the author of the following books:
When a Man Cries (2007), Yakhal’ Indoda (2010), African Delights (2011), The House of Truth (2017), and Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories (2019).
He holds a PhD in English literature and is the founder and editor of Imbiza Journal for African Writing. He has held research and teaching positions at the University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria and University of the Witwatersrand. Bloke and His American Bantu is his second play, following the success of The House of Truth, a one-man play featuring Sello Maake kaNcube, which premiered to sold-out houses at the 2016 National Arts Festival.