Joburg Theatre brings books to life

The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead

“This one is for the bibliophiles”

Joburg Theatre by arrangement with DALRO (Pty) Limited presents The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona from 01 to 16 of October 2021. These two award productions are directed by the award-winning Thespian, director and actor, Dr John Kani. Joburg Theatre’s School Setworks program brings books to life by taking theatre to the schools from 04 to 16 of October 2021, with a limited run at the Lesedi Theatre from 01 to 03 October 2021.

The theatre has adjusted to the new norm by taking the setworks to the schools around Gauteng, to increase daytime programming for schools’ audiences providing learners with high quality live performances of set books from the school curriculum at the comfort of their school halls. Joburg Theatre, has been at the forefront in providing not only entertainment but edutainment by putting the world of books on stage and making the study of literature pleasing.

The School Set work program is a flagship development and outreach program placing the theatre at the heart of South Africa’s challenge of literacy. The program creates new audiences for the theatre and broadens the ways theatre can be used as a tool to address social needs by Staging a range of works to include different languages, genres and grades.

Sizwe Banzi Is Dead is a play by Athol Fugard, written collaboratively with two South African actors, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, set in apartheid South Africa, providing an angry and poignant indictment of the dehumanising effects of the notorious pass laws which stripped black South Africans of their identity. The Island in Robben Island, South Africa’s notorious prison, where John and Winston are political prisoners and cellmates. After absurdly gruelling days labouring under the sun, they return to their dark cell to rehearse a makeshift performance of Sophocles’ play Antigone.

The young cast consisting of Luntu Masiza, Siya Mayola and Anele Situlweni have embodied the characters for both plays after meticulously researching the fascinating background and facts to carefully evoke the lives of prisoners during the Apartheid era. Together, they are the most laudable and empathetic portrayers of the outcasts with a direction from the world-renowned actor and Director John Kani.

‘The role of the arts has always been to educate, inform, and entertain. Going back to these two great classics of the South African theatre, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and the Island with a young company has given me the opportunity to bridge the generational gap between the youth and elders of our people. This exercise reminds all of us the price that was paid by parents for freedom we are enjoying today. What a joy for me to work with such talented young artists and the Joburg Theatre,’ said Dr John Kani – Author and Director.

With the legendary John Kani directing both productions, this year’s school setworks promises to be the most entertaining plays for both young and old.

“Our theatre prides itself in addressing the challenges brought by the COVID-19 restrictions and particularly with schools being restricted on excursions. This program presents a unique opportunity for learners, teachers and literature lovers to experience books on stage and in the comfort of school halls. I’m also excited that theatre lovers will have an opportunity to see both productions directed by Dr. John Kani at the Lesedi theatre for a limited run before it travels to schools. ’ said Xoliswa Nduneni Ngema, Chief Executive Officer of Joburg City Theatres.

Both productions will be staged at the theatre for a limited audience and will travel around the Gauteng Region schools in a suitcase to give leaners an opportunity to enjoy the play at the comfort of their school halls, in a safe environment while observing all COVID-19 protocols.

To learn more about The Schools Setworks program, go to Schools can book with Nkanyiso Shezi by emailing or calling 011 877 6805 Individual bookings can go to or call 0861 670 670.

For media enquiries contact:
Bongani Maseko
011 877 6803
076 644 7793 / 065 904 1703

Bongani Maseko
076 644 7793
Joburg Theatre