Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Rivonia Trial Tribunal Play

I am in the early developmental stages of a first draft of a tribunal play based on the Rivonia Trial court transcripts.  Referred to as “the trial that changed South Africa,”in Oct 1963, opponents of Apartheid including Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki & Walter Sisulu went on trial for sabotage.
A ‘tribunal play’ is a verbatim play edited from transcripts of court proceedings.  Tribunal theatre offers an immediacy & proximity to important events that few witnessed originally in ways that film or print could never do.
Following the completion of this early draft,there will also be a reading of the play in Cape Town, South Africa by Educape Trust.
I want to do this project now because I believe that this internationally significant trial has been overlooked.The ethical leadership qualities of those defendants are still relevant.  In an era of autocrats & politicians buoyed by cults of personalities,there is a demand to examine a different type of leadership – ethical leadership by consensus.  These 13 men exemplify a selflessness that is rarely apparent in today’s politicians.I hope the play can contribute to the current debate on leadership styles.
As part of the development process, John Kani & Jack Klaff have recorded extracts from the trial – specifically the electric exchanges between Walter Sisulu and Bram Fischer, Defence lawyer and Walter Sisulu and Percy Yutar, Prosecuting lawyer.

John Kani [centre] with Atandwa Kani and Omphile Moulusi [2009], reading of The Robben Island Shakespeare.
Jack Klaff reading extracts from The Robben Island Shakespeare [2017].