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].

About Matthew Hahn

Matthew Hahn is an independent creative producer, playwright, theatre director and theatre for development facilitator specialising in creating theatre for social change, for examining behaviour and for improving communication skills. He works with emerging and established theatre makers and finding new ways for audiences and communities to access art through partnerships. He works both nationally and internationally and has produced work in the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana, and South Africa. As a theatre for development practitioner, he facilitates interactive and participatory theatre projects focusing on social cohesion, peace-making and conflict resolution. His play, The Robben Island Shakespeare, has been performed in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa; he regularly facilitates 'Ethical Leadership' Workshops in South Africa based on his interviews with former South African political prisoners and selections from 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.' From 2008 to 20018, he was a Senior Lecturer at St Mary’s University, London specializing in theatre for development. From 2006 to 2016, he was a training facilitator with Theatre for a Change, a UK charity which utilizes interactive theatre to train teachers and facilitators on the topics of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health in the United Kingdom and Malawi. Matthew has degrees in Political Science & Journalism from Indiana University (1995) in the United States and is a graduate of the Goldsmiths College Masters in Theatre Directing programme (2002) in the United Kingdom. He trained with the SITI Company in New York (2000) and with Anne Bogart in Dublin, Ireland (2005). He has also trained with the Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company (2005) in London in their Forum Theatre / Joker Training Programme.

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