ZAKES MOKAE Zakes Mokae, 75, an actor and director, of Las Vegas and South Africa, passed away Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and later trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, in London, England. Zakes was considered one of the most distinguished thespians in South Africa for over two decades. Mokae was one of the few actors capable of crossing the racial barriers in South Africa. He and his collaborating friend, playwright, Athol Fugard, together, founded the Rehearsal Room Theatre Company, in South Africa, during the 1950's. Their productions dealt with their country's injustices. Zakes came to the United States with his American-born wife, Madelyn, whom he met and married in London, England. He later became an American Citizen. He has appeared in numerous critically acclaimed U.S. productions, including "The Blood Knot," "Boesman and Lena," along with James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee, for which they won the Obie's Awards, "A Lesson From Aloes," "Master Harold and the Boys," for which he received the 1982 Tony Award on Broadway, and again Tony nominated for "The Song of Jacob Zulu," in 1994. Television productions have included "A Different World," "Roots, Part II," "West Wing" and "Monk." Zakes was an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the British National Theatre. Films included "A Dry White Season," "Cry Freedom," "Outbreak," "Serpent and the Rainbow," "A Rage in Harlem" and "Waterworld." He and Danny Glover founded The Black Actors Theater in San Francisco, in 1980. He was directing theatre productions in Las Vegas before retiring. Zakes was a directing Fellow with the American Film Institute. As an adjunct professor, at the University of Las Vegas, during his tenure, he produced and directed five plays, including "The Last Being" and "A Road to Mecca." Mokae is survived by his wife, of 43 years, Madelyn J. Mokae. Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Palm Mortuary, 1600 S. Jones Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89146.
Published by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sep. 13, 2009.