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1 item from 2009

Zakes Mokae obituary

10 November 2009 10:45 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

South African actor who helped break the taboos of apartheid

On a steamy evening in a rundown Johannesburg club in September 1961, two actors premiered The Blood Knot, a play about brothers with different fathers, both men black but one light enough to enter white society. For each of them, the black actor Zakes Mokae, who has died aged 75, and the white playwright Athol Fugard, the night launched their careers. Fugard's play toured South Africa for six months, and although he travelled first-class on the train while Mokae travelled third, the two had broken a taboo by being the first black and white actors to appear on a public stage in apartheid South Africa. The success of The Blood Knot brought Fugard to international attention and kickstarted Mokae's long and varied career in theatre, film and television.

Mokae was born and grew up in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, the son of a policeman and a housemaid. »

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