Joburg Theatre Launches New Black History Month Production Starting in February

By Tshegofatso Makola

The Joburg Theatre held their launch of Black History month on 15 January 2023. Kick-starting the festivities with a play to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would've celebrated his 94th birthday this year, the theatre announced it's upcoming play to commemorate this annual observance, called Fence.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has gone down as one of the greatest icons in all of history for his contribution to fighting racial inequality in the United States through passive resistance, as well as being one of the forerunners of the Civil Rights Movement.

Picture this, a play written about the icon with scores of jazz and soulful tunes symbolic of the 1950s, contemporary dance to accompany the monologues acted out with immense attention to detail, enough to give you goosebumps.

That is exactly what was performed in the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

A production that took just seven days to make, moved the audience and brought a level of consciousness through its narration. With each actor or actress giving their own rendition of the Civil Rights Movement icon, the play brought a different take on the cliche story of King.

The Joburg Post spoke to the newly appointed Artistic Director, Mr James Ngcobo about the play, where he explained how bringing this production together took place. Ngcobo expressed that it's never easy making theatre, adding that if you approach theatre with humility and do your research, it becomes much easier to tell the story.

Ngcobo further added that within this production, actors are not "acting Dr. King" but are instead "owning the words that he spoke".

Given that Black History Month is has its origins in the United States, one questions the need for us on the African continent to still engage in this annual observance of black culture and history.

The answer to this is fairly simple- we, too can relate to the achievements of African- Americans and the struggles of race that we too have endured in Apartheid-South Africa. Celebrating this occasion allows one to fully engage in the similarities of all in the African diaspora and think critically about the way we want to move forward.

The best way to begin celebrating Black History Month would be to make your way to the Joburg Theatre between 2-26 February 2023 to see August Wilson's Fences.

The play, directed by Ricardo Khan, is set in the 1950s and will feature feature the renowned Dr. John Kani, who will be leading some of the finest talents on the Nelson Mandela stage.

Written by  “theatre’s poet of Black America”, August Wilson, the play forms part of his ten-part Pittsburgh Cycle, and is a must watch for all.

To find out more and purchase tickets for the play visit

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