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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

PIETER-DIRK UYS (article first published : 2000-03-13)

It is with great interest that I wait for Dr John Kani to set the historical record straight. He has just been awarded the Hiroshima Prize in Sweden for "allowing black people into the theatre during the 1980s in spite of the official whites-only policy of the apartheid government".

Dr Kani was then an actor and icon; not theatre manager. While he was performing throughout the world to accolades and receiving awards, other unnamed and unrewarded South Africans kept the doors of the Space Theatre and the Market Theatre open to all people, including blacks, in spite of official policy.

I am delighted that Dr Kani has received a substantial amount of money as his prize, funds that will no doubt help keep the Market Theatre going for some time. For it is the Market Theatre under Mannie Manim and Barney Simon that, thanks to the energy and commitment of Brian Astbury's Space Theatre, kept South African Theatre live and alive during those years of the struggle.

I hope Dr Kani will soon set the record straight. There are just too many of us who remember the details of that extraordinary time. The history of the SA Theatre of the 1970s and 1980s cannot be rewritten for the sake of political convenience.

Sincerely, Pieter-Dirk Uys. (Darling, Cape Province)




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