Julian Seleke Mokoto
(Jabu Kumalo wrote in the Daily Sun, December 2009): As a young man, Julian Seleke Mokoto lived for soccer. Not even in his wildest dreams did he imagine himself as an actor, let alone a playwright. Julian, from Naledi, was asked by a friend to accompany him to watch one of Gibson Kente’s greatest plays, Things Are Bad Mzala. He was so inspired by the acting of one Eric Sugar Mlangeni that he was sold on theatre. Out of the blue he was invited by a friend to join a drama group and got a lead part in a performance. From then on, as they say, he never looked back. He got so hooked on theatre that whenever the director was late or absent, he would take over. By his second stage play, Khathatso, he realised that he was a born actor and decided to abandon soccer. He then tried his hand at writing plays and came up with a hit called The Cause. A director from Grahamstown was impressed and invited him to their annual festival. He was also invited to take the play to Zimbabwe and Botswana. After writing, directing and acting in a play called Hold Up The Sun, he decided to quit acting and concentrate on writing and directing. He told Sun Buzz: “The idea was to create employment for other actors, because acting is their livelihood. Today I am proud that all my plays are performed to full houses. The reason I manage to put numbers in seats is because I write about social issues that are relevant to my audience. They identify with our stories. I have never written a flop!” Julian said. Though his shows have been successful, he says playwrights like him are not given enough chance to showcase their plays at places like the Market Theatre, the Baxter Theatre, The Playhouse, Windybrow and the bigger commercial theatres.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
Has created productions such as Shattered Dreams, Mary, the unfaithful Woman, Blind Mind, The Last Mile, Tapping Hearts and The Cause. Wrote and directed Hold Up The Sun (1995) at the the Abangani Community Arts in Soweto and staged at the Grahamstown Festival and in the Windybrow Theatre. Wrote and directed Money Maker, which opened in 2009 at the Windybrow Theatre and was revived in 2013 at Mmabana Studio 1, a sexually explicit and very popular play about sex workers. The Lies that Women Tell (2012), with TV personality Nomsa Buthelezi. She Died Dreaming (2013), a play about four women trying to find love, presented by the Playhouse Company at the SA Women's Arts Festival in Durban.
Winner of two FNB Vita Awards.
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