The Main Theatre of the Market Theatre has been renamed The John Kani Theatre. Affectionately known as the ëGodfather of South African theatreí this living theatre legend has demonstrated his passion and commitment to the Market Theatre Foundation, and to the South African performing arts sector.
He serves as Patron and Special Ambassador of the Market Theatre Foundation, and acted as its Managing Trustee in the 2000ís. However John Kani is primarily a multi award winning actor as well as a director and playwright.
John Kani was born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, in 1943, where he started his career with the Serpent Players Drama Group. John performed in countless plays over his 40 year theatrical career including Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island, which he co-wrote with Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona and for which he won the 1974/75 Tony Award for Best Actor. John has also appeared in The Blood Knot, Driving Miss Daisy, The Native Who Caused All The Trouble, Othello, The Lion & the Lamb, Waiting for Godot, The Death of Bessie Smith, Playland, Duet for One, My Children My Africa (which won him an AA Life Vita Award in 1990 for his role as Mr M), Hedda Gabler, Dance of Death and the Shakespeare compilation Ladies and Gentlemen, Shakespeare! John has received two OBIE Awards in New York for his contribution to theatre in the world.
At the Market Theatre, John has directed Goree and Blues Africa Cafe by Matsamela Manaka, Kagoos by Kessie Govender and The Meeting by Jeff Stetson. In 1989, together with the late Barney Simon, co- founder of the Market Theatre, John established the Market Theatre Laboratory, which runs a drama school and a community theatre development programme for previously disadvantaged youth. The Laboratory is now a crucible of new talent and new South African works.
Market Theatre Foundation CEO Annabell Lebethe noted that John Kani is part of the fabric of the Market Theatre.
The Council saw fit to honour this doyenne of South African theatre at the institution that he has played such a crucial role in,î Lebethe added.