ATHOL FUGARD Poet, Actor, Conscience from SOUTH AFRICA

Poet, Actor, Conscience
(Sources: Craig McLuckie, Okanagan College, The Literary Encyclopedia
Iain Fischer, Statements: An Athol Fugard Website)
Athol Fugard is a dramatist of
enormous power, particularly
adept at full length plays with
a small cast. A one time
student of philosophy,
Fugard’s works are marked by
an experientially driven search
for truth and an attendant
celebration of humanity, no
matter how circumscribed the
individual’s material
Fugard, in the 1992
Academy Award
winning film GHANDI
as South African
General Smuts.
While Fugard has written works
set in other locales than South
Africa, his evocation of the
Karroo region of the Eastern
Cape is inimitably his
landscape. In a language that
reaches the poetic, Fugard has
charted the lives of the region’s
dispossessed. His work has a
universal application to
audiences that arises from its
precise grounding in the South
Africa of the latter part of the
twentieth century
His post-apartheid works have less
power and evenness in their
dramatic impact than those with a
historic touchstone. In addition to
some 20 dramatic works (including
the stellar collaborations with John
Kani and Winston Ntshona), Fugard
has written a novel, Tsotsi, memoirs,
and several film scripts (with Ross
Devenish). Fugard directs and acts in
his work, though the general reader
is perhaps more aware of Fugard’s
brief roles in the films Gandhi and
The Killing Fields.
Athol Harold Lannigan Fugard was born in
Middelburg, South Africa on June 11, 1932. He is
white with English and Afrikaner parents. His
mother, Elizabeth Magdalena (née Potgieter), a
general store, then a lodging house operator,
was an Afrikaner; his father, Harold, a former
jazz pianist, was of Irish, English and Huguenot
Afrikaners (including the Boer subgroup) are a Germanic
ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from Dutch
(including Flemish), French and German settlers ...
Fugard has described himself as an Afrikaner
writing in English. He was brought up in Port
Elizabeth, South Africa, the setting for many of
his plays. He entered the Marist Brothers
College in 1938 for elementary schooling with
a Catholic flavour. Fugard’s secondary
education, funded in part by a scholarship,
was at the technical college. He attended Cape
Town University, where his deep-rooted
interest in the writings of Albert Camus began.
Fugard left university a few months
shy of his final examinations in
1953. Travel with a fellow student
through Africa was followed by
Fugard signing on the SS Graigaur
as a seaman for two years, spent
in the Far East. On returning to
South Africa, Fugard worked as a
freelance reporter for the Evening
Post (Port Elizabeth).
Sheila Fugard
In September 1956 he married Sheila
Meiring (now, a novelist and poet). In
the late 1950s Athol and Sheila Fugard
began the Circle Players in Port
Elizabeth. In 1958 they moved to
Johannesburg where Fugard worked in
a “Native Commissioners’ Court” as a
clerk, an experience that made him
keenly aware of the injustices of
apartheid. In that same year, he
organized a multiracial theatre for
which he wrote, directed, and acted.
Lisa Fugard
As Dennis Walder notes:
It is his great strength to move us deeply by
showing the plight of ordinary people caught up
in the meshes of social, political, racial and even
religious forces which they are unable to
understand or control. It is his weakness that he
cannot reflect upon or analyse these forces
himself. [. . .] As actor, director and playwright, he
is obsessed with the idea that what he has to say
can only be said indirectly, as an image,
embodied in the ‘living moment’ on stage.
(Walder, Athol Fugard, New York: Grove, 1985: 3)
Athol Fugard
Athol Fugard people
Go to a website which profiles most of Fugard’s
most important collaborators.
Athol Fugard at Signature Theatre
Blood Knot
My Children! My
The Train Driver
MASTER HAROLD and the boys
Original NYC production with Lonny Price,
Zakes Mokae and Danny Glover
NYC, Roundabout Theatre,
2003 with Danny Glover
Matthew Broderick and Zakes Mokae in 1986
2010 film
Who is this play about?
Protagonist is __________________
Antagonist is __________________
Central action is _________________________
Plays of Athol Fugard
A Lesson from Aloes
Boseman and Lena
The Captain’s Tiger
The Cell
The Coat
Coming Home
The Drummer
Exits and Entrances
Friday’s Bread on Monday
Have You Seen Us?
Hello and Goodbye
The Island
Klaas and the Devil
The Last Bus
Master Harold and the boys
Mille Miglia
My Children! My Africa!
No-Good Friday
The Occupation
People are Living There
A Place With The Pigs
Ramzy Abul Majd
The Road to Mecca
Sizwe Banzi is Dead
Sorrows and Rejoicings
Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act
The Train Driver
Valley Song