All-star cast for The Crucible at UJ Arts Centre

Celebrity actors Neels Claasen, Cindy Swanepoel, Jacques Bessenger, Chan Marti and Lebohang Motaung play the leads in University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) production of The Crucible from Thursday, 16 April 2015.
“I am thrilled that we have been able to secure a cast of this calibre for our very first full-scale setwork production,” says Ashraf Johaardien, Head of UJ Arts & Culture, commenting on the launch of the EVOLUTION X Performing Arts Programme for 2015.
Written by Pulitzer-winning playwright Arthur Miller, the play is set in colonial Massachusetts, during the Salem Witch trials of 1692, Miller’s play is based on actual events where greed and vindictiveness fanned the flames of religious fervour until they almost destroyed an entire village.
Neels Clasen – who plays the role of John Proctor – played the lead role in the American thriller Slash (2002). Other film credits include Catch a Fire (2006) and Platteland (2011). He was also co-writer and actor in the Kyknet series, Blikskottel (2003) as well as the SABC 2 series Kompleks and Kompleks 2 which he co-directed. Kompleks 2 was nominated in four categories at the annual SAFTA awards, for; Best Comedy Series; Best Comedy Writing; Best Comedy Ensemble and Best Director of a Comedy Series. Neels has extensive television experience and was seen in three series of Soul Buddyz and presented Cinemagic with Barry Ronge. Other series include Die Casper Rasper Show and Ietermago (Kyknet), Isidingo and Zero Tolerance (SABC2). He was also nominated for a Naledi award in the category, Best Male Performance in a Musical, for his portrayal of the villain, Khashogg in WE WILL ROCK YOU.
Cindy Swanepoel doubles up in the roles of Abigail and Elizabeth Proctor. She also plays the role of Mysi Moolman in the film Ballade Vir ‘n Enkeling which is currently on circuit. With almost thirty stage productions to her credit, she has also made small screen appearances on Egoli, 7De Laan, Villa Rosa, Generations and Laugh Out Loud. In addition she has been a guest performer on 90 Square Street, The Mating Game, Skeletons in the Cupboard, Sterlopers and Proesstraat. Cindy was also featured at this year’s Silver Screen Festival in the short film Enrigting for which she was nominated as Best Actress. She also has her own production company, Poko Productions, specialising in Shadow Theater.
In the dual roles of Reverend John Hale and Reverend Parris is Jacques Bessenger who has appeared in several UJ productions in recent years including The Quiet Violence of Dreams (2012) in which he also played multiple characters and as Jean Paul Marat in Marat/Sade which is currently a contender in the category of Best Production; Cutting Edge for the Naledi Awards. Jacques can currently be seen on circuit in the role of Jan-Paul Otto Senior alongside Cindy in Ballade Vir ‘n Enkeling. In addition to numerous stage credits, his television credits include Mossie in Song For Katryn, Renier in Erfsondes (for which he was nominated for a SAFTA and an ATKV Media Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series), Donkerland, Binnelanders, Isidingo, Villa Rosa, Jozi Streets and Justice For All. He has appeared in the films Wolwedans in die Skemer, Ordinary People, Huis Van Liefde and was awarded Best Male Supporting Actor for his role in the film Verraaiers.
Chan Marti is a newcomer to the UJ Arts stable and tackles the roles of Mrs Putnam and Rebecca Nurse. She has worked extensively as a performer, director, chef and voice artist with theatre credits that include Romeo and Juliet, Die Toneelstuk, Falling Awake, Hex, Sweat on Somerset (for which she received a FNB Vita nomination), Pick-Ups, Stop Kiss, Behind Closed Doors, After Mrs. Rochester, Julius Caesar, Animal Farm and Cissie. Her television and film work includes Angel’s Song, Jozi H, Justice For All, Skin, Isidingo, The Mating Game, Africa United and Chappie.
Lebohang Motaung who plays Mr Thomas Putnam, Giles Corey and Givenor Danforth started his career in the arts at Sibikwa Community Theatre Project in 1999. He later joined Inzalo Dance and Theatre Company (IDTC) in 2005 where he performed in Dancing Ahead of Time, Bodyscape and Solve For X, while at the company. He played multiple characters in the South African political drama Comrade Babble, and Tlhogo Moimele in Book of Rebellations at the Soweto Theatre and Artscape. Under the direction of Alby Michaels, these stellar performers lead an ensemble cast of UJ performing art alumni and student novices. The production runs in UJ Arts Centre Theatre on the Kingsway Campus from 16 April 2015 with low-price previews on 14 and 15 April.
Full price tickets are R80, R50 for student’s and pensioners and R70 for bookings of more than 10. Book at Computicket or at the UJ Arts Centre offices during working hours. For more information call 011 559 3058 or e-mail For school and/or group bookings please contact Kerry Lee on
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