FROM THE AISLE
Philip Rinaldi said they already emailed the photos.
>Nothing But The Truth= is a rich lesson in South African family values. If there is only one play you see this year, make it this one playing at the Mitzi E.Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. The play is written by and stars the phenomenal South African playwright/Tony-award winning actor, John Kani.
It is a story filled with lessons in African tradition. It brings one back to the ways of the village and the respect that is supposed to exist in families, between a parent and a child. The play focuses on so many important subjectsClike how parents will favor one child over another and the resentment it creates in the child who is less favored. A resentment that is finally allowed to come out when the favored child has passed away.
ANothing But The Truth@ is also about forgiveness, not just of one person towards another, but for a nation of people to forgive a massive group of murderers. Kani looks at the anger in his character, Sipho=s heart, over the murder of his son Luvuyo, who was shot by a white cop because he was a member of the resistance in South Africa. Sipho not only harbors hatred for the cop, but his own younger, now deceased brother, who was part of the resistance against apartheid and who his son modeled himself after. Kani helps the audience to understand the pain of the Reconciliation hearings that took place in South Africa. During the hearings, people who murdered those in the resistance, confessed their deeds and were granted amnesty.
Of course, a subject like this is a very powerful topic. Kani=s handling of the presentation is admirable. He shows both sides of the coinCthat of the native South African, in this case Sipho=s grown daughter Thando (passionately played by South African actress Warona Seane), who says that it is important to grant amnesty so that the nation can heal. Thando=s views are dramatically opposed by her deceased uncle=s daughter Mandisa (stunningly portrayed by South African actress Esmeralda Bihl), who comes to South Africa to bring her father=s remains for burial. Mandisa is an outsider, born and raised in London and feels that revenge is the way to go. Someone must be punished. Kani gives fair play to both sides of the issue, but in the end shows that forgiveness is important more for the forgiver than the one being forgiven.
Sipho is a strong character, who is stern in his beliefs. His niece is the stranger who comes in and doesn=t understand the ways of her father=s people and culture.
Still another issue in the play is who were the heroes in South Africa during apartheid? Were the heroes those who stayed home and maintained things or those who fought for the resistence from outside of South Africa and we=re exiled for their role in the struggle?
Kani took time out to talk about the many levels of the play and his view on some of the topics he addresses. AOur country and our people are quite aware that those who stayed and left made significant contributions to the freedom of South Africa. Those who stayed kept the flame of freedom, those abroad influenced decision makers abroad to put pressure on South Africa. Some went into military camps and battles from outside the country. However, there was a tendency for those who went abroad to talk the loudest, because they fought. When wars are over and struggles are won, a word of thanks would be appreciated especially to those that held the home and communities together,@ said Kani.
Writing this play, helped Kani to heal from the pain of his younger brother Xolile, a poet of the struggle, being shot and killed in 1985. In the play Sipho talks of an elaborate funeral for his father and how the funeral was turned into a political rally because his brother was exiled and could not attend. He shares how he felt his brother caused the family not to get to say goodbye to the father properly. In talking about this scene, the playwright shared that the funeral he describes, which took hours and showcased over a dozen speakers and thousands of mourners, was actually his brother Xolile=s funeral.
AWriting the play and performing it, when we first opened July 4, 2002, in South Africa at the Marketplace Theater in Johannesburg, gave me a great sense of relief and calming down. I realized that my brother died so that I could be free and I should remember him with great pride and fondness,@ said Kani.
One of the greatest moments Kani has had in performing the show happened prior to opening night. Before the dress rehearsal in South Africa, he got a call from former President Nelson Mandela, who asked if he could see the show that night. AThere=s a powerful political landscape, but what I=m pleased about John is your focus on the family,@ said Mandela to the playwright.
The show will play at Lincoln Center through Jan. 18. You may want to try to see it more than once to truly grasp all that is in this amazing piece. It will leave you emotionally drained, but very enlightened.
Kani plans on taking the show on an international tour next fall and in between traveling, performing it in all the communities in South Africa.