Athol Fugard

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Athol Fugard
Born Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard
(1932-06-11) 11 June 1932 (age 82)
Middelburg, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Occupation playwright, novelist, actor, director, teacher
Ethnicity Afrikaner and English
Citizenship South African and American
Period 1956–present
Genre drama, novel, memoir
Notable works "Master Harold"...and the Boys
Blood Knot
Spouse Sheila Fugard (1956–present)

Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard (born 11 June 1932) is a South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director who writes in English. He is best known for his political plays opposing the South African system of apartheid and for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film of his novel Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood.[1] Fugard is an adjunct professor of playwriting, acting and directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego.[2] For the academic year 2000–2001, he was the IU Class of 1963 Wells Scholar Professor at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana.[3] The recipient of many awards, honours, and honorary degrees, including the 2005 Order of Ikhamanga in Silver "for his excellent contribution and achievements in the theatre" from the government of South Africa,[4] he is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[5]

Personal history[edit]

Fugard was born as Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard, in Middelburg, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on 11 June 1932. His mother, Elizabeth Magdalena (née Potgieter), an Afrikaner, operated first a general store and then a lodging house; his father, Harold, was a disabled former jazz pianist of Irish, English and French Huguenot descent.[1][6][7] In 1935, his family moved to Port Elizabeth.[8] In 1938, he began attending primary school at Marist Brothers College.[9] After being awarded a scholarship, he enrolled at a local technical college for secondary education and then studied Philosophy and Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town,[10] but he dropped out of the university in 1953, a few months before final examinations.[1] He left home, hitchhiked to North Africa with a friend, and then spent the next two years working in east Asia on a steamer ship, the SS Graigaur,[1] where he began writing, an experience "celebrated" in his 1999 autobiographical play The Captain's Tiger: a memoir for the stage.[11]

In September 1956, he married Sheila Meiring, a University of Cape Town Drama School student whom he had met the previous year.[1][12] Now known as Sheila Fugard, she is a novelist and poet. Their daughter, Lisa Fugard, is also a novelist.[13]

The Fugards moved to Johannesburg in 1958, where he worked as a clerk in a Native Commissioners' Court, which "made him keenly aware of the injustices of apartheid."[1] The political impetus of Fugard's plays brought him into conflict with the national government; to avoid prosecution, he had his plays produced and published outside South Africa.[12][14] A former alcoholic, Athol Fugard has been teetotal since the early 1980s.[15]

He and his wife live in San Diego, California,[16] where he teaches as an adjunct professor of playwriting, acting, and directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD),[2] and they maintain a residence in South Africa.[14]

Career[edit]

Early period[edit]

In 1958, Fugard organised "a multiracial theatre for which he wrote, directed, and acted", writing and producing several plays for it, including No-Good Friday (1958) and Nongogo (1959), in which he and his colleague black South African actor Zakes Mokae performed.[1]

After returning to Port Elizabeth in the early 1960s, Athol and Sheila Fugard started The Circle Players,[1] which derives its name from their influential production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, by Bertolt Brecht.[17]

In 1961, in Johannesburg, Fugard and Mokae starred as the brothers Morris and Zachariah in the single-performance world première of Fugard's play The Blood Knot (revised and retitled Blood Knot in 1987), directed by Barney Simon.[18]

In 1962, Fugard publicly supported the Anti-Apartheid Movement (1959–94), an international boycott of South African theatres due to their segregated audiences, leading to government restrictions on him and police surveillance of him and his theatre, and leading him to have his plays published and produced outside South Africa.[14]

Lucille Lortel produced The Blood Knot at the Cricket Theatre, Off Broadway, in New York City, in 1964, "launch[ing]" Fugard's "American career."[19]

The Serpent Players

In the 1960s, Fugard formed the Serpent Players, whose name derives from their first venue, the former snake pit at the zoo,[14] "a group of black actors worker-players who earned their living as teachers, clerks, and industrial workers, and cannot thus be considered amateurs in the manner of leisured whites", developing and performing plays "under surveillance of the Security Police."[20]

According to Loren Kruger,

the Serpent Players used Brecht's elucidation of gestic acting, dis-illusion, and social critique, as well as their own experience of the satiric comic routines of urban African vaudeville, to explore the theatrical force of Brecht's techniques, as well as the immediate political relevance of a play about land distribution. Their work on the Caucasian Chalk Circle and, a year later, on Antigone[14] led directly to the creation, in 1966, of what is still [2004] South Africa's most distinctive Lehrstück [learning play]: The Coat. Based on an incident at one of the many political trials involving the Serpent Players, The Coat dramatized the choices facing a woman whose husband, convicted of anti-apartheid political activity, left her only a coat and instructions to use it.[20]

In The Coat, Kruger observes, "The participants were engaged not only in representing social relationships on stage but also on enacting and revising their own dealings with each other and with institutions of apartheid oppression from the law courts downward", and "this engagement testified to the real power of Brecht's apparently utopian plan to abolish the separation of player and audience and to make of each player a 'statesman' or social actor.... Work on The Coat led indirectly to the Serpent Players' most famous and most Brechtian productions, Sizwe Bansi is Dead (1972) and The Island (1973)."[20]

Fugard developed these two plays for the Serpent Players in workshops, working extensively with John Kani and Winston Ntshona,[20] publishing them in 1974 with his own play Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act (1972). The authorities considered the title of The Island, which alludes to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was being held, too controversial, so Fugard and the Serpent Players used the alternative title The Hodoshe Span (Hodoshe being slang for prison work gang).[citation needed]

These plays "evinced a Brechtian attention to the demonstration of gest and social situations and encouraged audiences to analyze rather than merely applaud the action"; for example, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, which "combined Brechtian critique and vaudevillian irony-–especially in Kani's virtuoso improvisation-–even provoked an African audience's critical interruption and interrogation of the action."[20] While dramatising frustrations in the lives of his audience members, the plays simultaneously drew them into the action and attempted to have them analyse the situations of the characters in Brechtian fashion, according to Kruger.[20]

Blood Knot was filmed by BBC Television in 1967, with Fugard's collaboration, starring the Jamaican actor Charles Hyatt as Zachariah and Fugard himself as Morris, as in the original 1961 première in Johannesburg.[21] Less pleased than Fugard, the South African government of B. J. Vorster confiscated Fugard's passport.[6][22]

Later period[edit]

Back entrance to the Fugard Theatre in District Six, Cape Town

"Master Harold"...and the Boys, written in 1982, incorporates "strong autobiographical matter"; nonetheless "it is fiction, not memoir", as Cousins: A Memoir and some of Fugard's other works are subtitled.[23]

His post-apartheid plays, such as Valley Song, The Captain's Tiger: a memoir for the stage and his 2007 play, Victory, focus more on personal than political issues.[24][25]

The Fugard Theatre, in the District Six area of Cape Town opened with performances by the Isango Portobello theatre company in February 2010 and a new play written and directed by Athol Fugard, The Train Driver, will play at the theatre in March 2010.[26]

Fugard's plays are produced internationally, have won multiple awards, and several have been made into films, including among their actors Fugard himself.[27]

His film debut as a director occurred in 1992, when he co-directed the adaptation of his play The Road to Mecca with Peter Goldsmid, who also wrote the screenplay.[27]

The film adaptation of his novel Tsotsi, written and directed by Gavin Hood, won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.[27]

Plays[edit]

In chronological order of first production and/or publication:[6][28][29][30][31]

Bibliography[edit]

Co-authored with John Kani and Winston Ntshona
Co-authored with Ross Devenish
  • The Guest: an episode in the life of Eugene Marais. By Athol Fugard and Ross Devenish. Craighall: A. D. Donker, 1977. ISBN 0-949937-36-3. (Die besoeker: 'n episode in die lewe van Eugene Marais. Trans. into Afrikaans by Wilma Stockenstrom. Craighall: A. D. Donker, 1977. ISBN 0-949937-43-6.)

Filmography[edit]

Films adapted from Fugard's plays and novel[27]
Film roles[27]

Selected awards and nominations[edit]

Theatre[36]
Honorary awards
Honorary degrees

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Craig McLuckie (Okanagan College) (3 October 2003). "Athol Fugard (1932–)". The Literary Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 25 August 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "Athol Fugard". University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  3. ^ Athol Fugard and Bruce Burgun (IUB theater professor) (29 September 2000). "Conversation On line with South African Dramatist Athol Fugard". Indiana University at Bloomington. Archived from the original on 11 September 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2008.  (RealAudio clip of interview.)
  4. ^ a b "Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard (1932 -)" (Web). 2005 National Orders Awards. South African Government Online (info.gov.za). 27 September 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c Iain Fisher. "Athol Fugard: Biography". Athol Fugard: Statements. iainfisher.com. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  7. ^ Fisher gives Fugard's full birth name as "Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard", spelling Fugard's middle name as Lanigan, following Dennis Walder, Athol Fugard, Writers and Their Work (Tavistock: Northcote House in association with the British Council, 2003). It is spelled as Lannigan in Athol Fugard, Notebooks 1960–1977 (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2004) and in Stephen Gray's Athol Fugard (Johannesburg and New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982) and many other publications. The former spelling (single n) seems more authoritative, however, as it is also used by Marianne McDonald, a close UCSD colleague and friend of Fugard, in "A Gift for His Seventieth Birthday: Athol Fugard's Sorrows and Rejoicings", Department of Theatre and Dance, University of California, San Diego, rpt. from TheatreForum 21 (Summer/Fall 2002); in Fugard's National Orders Award (27 September 2005) from the government of South Africa, presented to "Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard (1932 –)"; and in his "Full Profile" in Who's Who of Southern Africa (2007).
  8. ^ Athol Fugard; Dennis Walder, ed. and introd (2000). The Township Plays. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 1993. pp. xvi. ISBN 978-0-19-282925-2.  (Google Books limited preview.)
  9. ^ "History: St Dominic's Prior School ... Marist Brothers College" (Web). St Dominic's Priory School. Retrieved 5 October 2008. 
  10. ^ "Boesman and Lena – Author Biography". Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  11. ^ Albert Wertheim (2000). The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard: From South Africa to the World. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2000. pp. 215, 224–38. ISBN 978-0-253-33823-5.  (Google Books limited preview.)
  12. ^ a b Sheila Fugard. "The Apprenticeship Years: Athol Fugard issue". Twentieth Century Literature (findarticles.com). 39.4 (Winter 1993). Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  13. ^ Alden Mudge (1 January 2006). "African Odyssey: Lisa Fugard Explores the Moral Ambiguities of Apartheid". First Person: Interview. Bookpage.com. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Marianne McDonald (Professor of Theatre and Classics) (April 2003). "Introd. of Athol Fugard" (YouTube Video clip). Times Topics, The New York Times. Retrieved 1 October 2008.  [Times Topics menu includes link to UCSD YouTube clip of Athol Fugard's lecture, "A Catholic Antigone: an episode in the life of Hildegard of Bingen", Eugene M. Burke C.S.P. Lectureship on Religion and Society, University of California, San Diego (UCSD).]
  15. ^ Athol Fugard (31 October 2010). "Once upon a life: Athol Fugard". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  16. ^ Athol Fugard and Serena Davies (8 April 2007). "My Week: Athol Fugard". Telegraph.co.uk (London). Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  17. ^ Loren Kruger (2004). "Chapter 5: The Dis-illusion of Apartheid: Brecht in South Africa". Post-Imperial Brecht Politics and Performance, East and South. Cambridge Studies in Modern Theatre. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge UP, 2004. pp. 215–80. ISBN 978-0-521-81708-0.  (Google Books.)
  18. ^ Mel Gussow (24 September 1985). "Stage: 'The Blood Knot' by Fugard". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2008. 
  19. ^ "Athol Fugard: Biography". The Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f Loren Kruger (2004). "Chapter 5: The Dis-illusion of Apartheid: Brecht in South Africa". Post-Imperial Brecht Politics and Performance, East and South. Cambridge Studies in Modern Theatre. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge UP, 2004. pp. 217–18. ISBN 978-0-521-81708-0.  (Google Books limited preview.)
  21. ^ Athol Fugard (1983). Notebooks 1960–1977. Craighall: A. D. Donker, 1983. ISBN 0-86852-011-X. "Back in S'Kop after five weeks in London for BBC TV production of The Blood Knot. Myself as Morrie, with Charles Hyatt as Zach. Robin Midgley directing. Midgley reduced the play to 90 minutes....Midgley did manage to dig up things that had been missed in all the other productions. Most exciting was his treatment of the letter writing scene – 'Address her' – which he turned into an essay in literacy...Zach sweating as the words clot in his mouth...." 
  22. ^ Dennis Walder, "Crossing Boundaries: The Genesis of the Township Plays", Special issue on Athol Fugard, Twentieth Century Literature (Winter 1993); rpt. findarticles.com. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  23. ^ Albert Wertheim (2000). The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard: From South Africa to the World. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2000. pp. 225. ISBN 978-0-253-33823-5.  (Google Books limited preview.)
  24. ^ Brian Logan (28 July 2007). "Finally, It's Personal". The Times (London). Retrieved 1 October 2008. "[Fugard's] plays helped to end apartheid, but it's Athol Fugard's own life that now inspires his work." 
  25. ^ Charles Spencer (17 August 2007). "Victory: The Fight's Gone Out of Fugard". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 October 2008.  [Theatre review of Victory at the Theatre Royal, Bath.]
  26. ^ Dugger, Celia W. (13 March 2010). "His Next Act: Driving Out Apartheid's Ghost". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  27. ^ a b c d e "Filmography" in Athol Fugard at AllMovie. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
  28. ^ Iain Fisher. "Athol Fugard: Plays" (Web). Athol Fugard: Statements. iainfisher.com. Retrieved 1 October 2008. "Some of his plays are grouped together. Sometimes this is based on the subject matter (the Port Elizabeth plays), sometimes it is based on a period and style (the Statement Plays). ... But no category is complete, and there is overlap (The Township and The Statement Plays) and some plays do not easily fit into any categories." 
  29. ^ Fisher observes in the Fugard "Biography" section of Athol Fugard: Statements that South African writer and critic Stephen Gray classifies many of Fugard's dramatic works according to chronological periods of composition and similarities of style: "Apprenticeship" ([1956–]1957); "Social Realism" (1958–1961); "Chamber Theatre" (1961–1970); "Improvised Theatre" (1966–1973); and "Poetic Symbolism" (1975[–1990]).
  30. ^ Stephen Gray, ed. and introd (1991). File on Fugard. London: Methuen Drama, 1991. ISBN 978-0-413-64580-7. 
  31. ^ Athol Fugard; Stephen Gray, ed. and introd (1990). My Children! My Africa! and Selected Shorter Plays. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand UP, 1990. ISBN 1-86814-117-9. 
  32. ^ Master Harold...and the Boys at AllMovie. Accessed 3 October 2008.
  33. ^ The Guest at Steenkampskraal at AllMovie. Accessed 4 October 2008.
  34. ^ Meetings with Remarkable Men at AllMovie. Accessed 3 October 2008.
  35. ^ "STIAS Fellow Athol Fugard receives prestigious 2014 prize". Stellenbosch University. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  36. ^ A list of Fugard's Broadway theatre award nominations may be found at the IBDB. "Athol Fugard: Awards". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  37. ^ a b c d Athol Fugard "Athol Fugard: Award Nominations; Award(s) Won". The Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  38. ^ "Lucille Lortel Awards Archive: 1986–2000". Lortel Archives. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  39. ^ "The Audie Awards: 1999" (Web). Writers Write, Inc. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  40. ^ "Yale University: Honorary Degree Honorands: 1977–2000" (PDF). Yale University. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  41. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients: 1948–2001". Wittenberg University. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  42. ^ "Honorary Graduates: 1920s to 2000s" (Web). University of the Witwatersrand. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  43. ^ "News release 94–185" (Web) (Press release). Brown University News Bureau (Sweeney). 24 May 1995. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  44. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by Princeton University: 1940s to 2000s" (Web). Princeton University. Archived from the original on 21 September 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  45. ^ "Search Results – Athol Fulgard". University of Stellenbosch. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]