John Kani

Rehearsals for August Wilson’s Fences with John Kani in full swing at the Joburg Theatre for Black History Month 2023

Rehearsals for August Wilson’s Fences with John Kani have begun at the Joburg Theatre in anticipation of Black History Month. The play will be staged on the Nelson Mandela Stage following the final dress rehearsal on 1 February 2023.

With an all-star ensemble led by Dr John Kani, Fences is a 1985 play and the sixth instalment in August Wilson’s ten-part Pittsburgh CycleFences is an emotional tale of a family headed by Troy (Dr Kani) and his wife Rose (Khutjo Green). They navigate the hurdles surrounding them together with their son Cory (Atandwa Kani), Troy’s son from a previous relationship Lyons (Hlomla Dandala), his brother Gabriel (Sbusiso Mamba) and his best friend Jim Bono (Tumisho Masha). Fences explores the evolving African American experience while examining race relations and other themes which resonate with what South Africa experienced during Apartheid, into democracy and celebrated over the years. 

August Wilson, the African American playwright often called “theatre’s poet of Black America”, is best known for his remarkable works on the 20th century African American experience including Fences, Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Pittsburgh Cycle. Two of which earned him coveted Pulitzer Prizes for drama namely, Fences in 1987 which also earned a Tony Award that same year and The Piano Lesson in 1990.


“August Wilson is the most performed playwright in America today. Most of his plays have been adapted into great movies including Fences directed and starring Denzel Washington. Viola Davis won an Oscar for Best Actress for playing Rose. It is so fitting that the Joburg Theatre celebrates this great writer in February 2023 during Black History Month. Would it not be wonderful if we here in South Africa could also have a season in all theatres celebrating our writers as well”, said Dr John Kani.

Joburg Theatre Artistic Director James Ngcobo enthused: “We are honoured to be presenting August Wilson’s iconic work Fences in celebration of Black History Month in February 2023. We will also include several activities programmed around Fences. With a cast as magnificent as this one we are also excited to welcome theatre patrons in the new year with this production. We urge patrons to follow our social media platforms for ticketing information and come out in large numbers to this presentation of an authentic Pittsburgh story.”

Tickets can be bought through Tickets for the preview shows from 2 – 4 February 2023 will retail for R160 while those for the main staging of Fences which runs from 5 – 26 February 2023 will cost R200 – R450.


The Production Team

Playwright: August Wilson

Artistic Director: James Ngcobo

Director: Ricardo Khan

Assistant Director: Rorisang Mothuba


  • Dr John Kani (Troy)
  • Khutjo Green (Rose; Troy’s wife)
  • Atandwa Kani (Cory; Troy and Rose’s son)
  • Hlomla Dandala (Lyons; Troy’s son from a previous relationship)
  • Sbusiso Mamba (Gabriel; Troy’s brother)
  • Tumisho Masha (Jim Bono; Troy’s best friend)

Watch the video of James Ngcobo talking about the August Wilson Season, programmed for Joburg Theatre for 2023\24.  LINK:


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Images: Supplied

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