Ethiopian Stars in South African Play

Awetu Simesso, an Ethiopian-born actor and a long-time scholar of Africa at Stanford University, starred in a play written by Athol Fugard, Africa's first ever dramatist to be performed at Broadway. First presented in 1992, the drama entitled 'Playland' is set in the Karoo in South Africa and takes place over the evening of New Year's Eve 1989 outside of the Playland traveling amusement park.

Two characters, Martinus Zoeloe, Playland's Black night-watchman (played by Awetu Simesso), and Gideon le Roux, a young Afrikaan man meet as night falls outside the park. When Gideon strikes up a conversation, we discover two men alone in the world, trapped by their personal demons. Through their interaction, Fugard deals with the scars of years of oppression and violence and attempts to offer us a glimpse at the pain and sacrifice which reconciliation in a post apartheid South Africa would entail.

In addition to occasional artistic stints in movies, plays and music, Awetu Simesso is also a Professor of African Studies at San Jose State University. A newly released CD by San Francisco Composer JJ Hollingsworth, includes an ancient Ethiopian Christmas song called 'Nuf Dhalatay', which was produced with the musical assistance of Professor Simesso.

Awetu Simesso