Charles J. Fourie
Charles J. Fourie (born 1965, Potchefstroom) is a South African writer, director working in television, film and theater. Fourie staged his first play as a drama student at the Windybrow Theatre in 1985, and went on to receive the Henk Wybenga bursary as most promising student in the same year.
He has written over 60 works for the stage presented in South Africa and the United Kingdom over the past twenty five years. As a director and producer he has also worked with well-known South African and British actors such as Linda Marlowe, Samantha Bond, Tobie Cronje, Chris Gxalaba, Albert Maritz, Michelle Burgess, Jamie Bartlett, Trix Pienaar and more recently[when?] with Deon Lotz, Leonard Moss, Peter Butler and Deirdre Wolhuter.
In 1994, he established the independent theatre company Cape Theatre Ensemble based in Cape Town, as an adhoc theatre production company. To date Cape Theatre Ensemble has staged over a hundred productions including collaborations with other production companies.
He has also worked widely in television since 1995 as a screenwriter, director and producer.
This section contains too many or overly lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (July 2015)
Fourie's early writing has been compared by literary and theatre critics with that of Athol Fugard and Sam Shephard. Other notable influences on his early plays are Samuel Beckett, Antonin Chekov and Jean Genet.
“Comparisons with Athol Fugard – the granddaddy of South African theater – are inevitable, and indeed that towering presence lurks behind this drama in which black meets white at close quarters during the final years of apartheid." (Mark Cook – This Is London – review of Big Boys)[volume & issue needed]
His stories engage socio-political themes in award-winning plays like Big Boys, Vrygrond, Stander, Vrededorp, Kurtz, The Parrot Woman, Goddess of Song, The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife, and more recently[when?] his acclaimed play Agterplaas.
“Florence Jenkins must rate pretty high on the all-time best list and writer Charles J. Fourie has done grandly in devising a show which leaves little unturned in his depiction of the life and times of the American opera diva Florence Foster Jenkins, a character if ever there was one." (Wilhelm Snyman – Cape Times – review of Goddess of Song)
Fourie was the first writer to bring Jenkins' story to the stage professionally and in 2015 a film based on her life will be released featuring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant with director Stephen Frears.
His play Sacrifice was staged in 2013 in both Afrikaans and English to critical acclaim.
“The play examines the painful twins of vengeance and sacrifice, and explores how a young man can be driven to kill in order to avenge his sister’s rape. It attempts to explain the reasons for the tension between some communities of white South Africans and the deep-rooted fear they have that black people are out to kill them. " (Nelisa Ngqulana – Whatson – review of Sacrifice)[volume & issue needed]
In 2014 he wrote the one-man play Happy which premiered at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival where after it toured to Cape Town and Pretoria. The play is currently being adapted into a film script for production in 2017.
“South Africa has never dealt adequately with its obsession with race. To that end the second production, which details the story of Happy Sindane, is as fascinating as it is tragic." (Benn van der Westhuizen – Artslink – review of Happy)[volume & issue needed]
2014 also saw the re-staging of Ella's Horses at the Grahamstown National Arts festival where it received a Standarbank Ovation award, with subsequent performances in Cape Town during 2015, and a new tour is planned in 2017.
“Ella’s Horses is a strange chronicle of the determinedly solitary Scottish émigré, Ella Gordon, and her confidant, Reverend Schaberg. Famed theatre and television actress Deirdre Wolhuter spins a stirring take on Ella’s cantankerous and headstrong philosophical beliefs. Leonard Moss’ Reverend Schaberg vies for the spotlight, and at times emerges as the victor with his absolute ‘voice of reason’ proverbs." (Benn van der Westhuizen – Whatson – review of Ella's Horses)[volume & issue needed]
Plays and adaptations
Big Boys was staged by the LA Ensemble in Los Angeles in 1993 and at the Warehouse Theatre (London) in 2002, and was a Time Out critics' choice. The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife was presented at the John Caird 'New Director's initiative at the Gatehouse theatre and at the Old Vic's 'New Voices' season (London) and has since been adapted for television.
Two of his other plays, Stander and Vrededorp, were adapted as television feature films and broadcast on M-Net during 2006/07. More recently[when?] his play The Parrot Woman was staged at the Finborough Theatre in London and the Burton Taylor Studio Theater in Oxford.
During 2007 he translated and staged the British comedy Noises Off by Michael Frayn as Lawwe Geluide with a stellar cast. The production had a sell out tour of South Africa. His play Ella's Horses (Ella se Perde) opened at the Aardklop festival in 2007, and was nominated for a Best Actress award.
His most recent play, Agterplaas, a searing depiction of a new generation of poverty stricken white South Africans opened in 2011 at the Karoo national Arts festival and has since been on tour and will continue with productions scheduled for 2012.
He has also been actively involved with promoting plays by fellow South African writers abroad and collaborated on 'A Season in South Africa' staged-readings at The Old Vic Theatre with British director Jeremy Bond; hosted by Antony Sher, John Kani and Janet Suzman.
During 2006 he also acted as editor for the British publication New South African Plays published in the UK by Aurora Metro Publishers.
In 2014 he wrote a one-man play based on the life and times of Happy Sindane titled Happy. The production premiered at the Grahamstown arts festival in 2014. He also staged his play Ella's Horses at the Grahamstown arts festival where it received a Standard Bank Ovation award. Both plays were subsequently staged on tour at The Masque theatre, The Galloway theatre and the Playhouse theatre during 2015.
In 2016 he translated Matthew Hurt's The Man Jesus in Afrikaans and the production is currently touring.
His new play Wond will also premier at the Cape Town Suid-ooster arts festival later this year.
Television and radio
As a television and radio screenwriter he worked as a script editor on various projects.
Recent script-writing credits include Binnelanders (M-Net) and Deeltitel Dames for Penguin Films to be broadcast on KykNET in 2010. He also wrote a 40 episode radio drama series titled Inferno for RSG which was broadcast in 2010, and wrote a 60 episode series titled Seisoene which was broadcast in 2012.
In 2013 his follow-up 40 episode radio drama series Purgatorio was broadcast again on RSG radio station. In 2014 he completed the trilogy by writing the 50 episode radio drama series Paradiso which was also broadcast in 2014 on RSG radio station.
For Maroela Radio and several other local radio stations he wrote a radio play to commemorate the death of Boer General De La Rey in 2014. This was followed by another radio drama series of 90 episodes titled Boggomsbaai also for Maroela Radio and several other South African radio stations which broadcast the serial during 2014 and 2015.
Several of his shorter radio plays have also been broadcast on RSG; these include Praatmaar which was broadcast in 2005, Beseringstyd (2008), and Offer (2013). In 2015 he received the RSG Radio Drama Prize for his radio play Vergifnis. His 60 episode radio drama series Tamboeryn was also broadcast on RSG radio station during 2016.
As film director he completed filming his first film as director based on his award-winning play Agterplaas. The film was premiered at the 2014 KykNET Silwerskerm Festival in Cape Town and was broadcast on KykNET in 2015.
Since 2015 he has also been working as a reality television content producer and has to date developed six new reality TV shows for broadcast in South Africa on a new lifestyle channel for Media24.
- Amstel Playwright of the year – Big Boys 1988
- Vita Best new play of the year – Big Boys 1989
- Vita Best production of a new play – Big Boys 1989
- Amstel Playwright of the year – Vrygrond 1993
- SACPAC Best new play of the year – Don Gxubane onner die Boere 1994
- Fleur du Cap Best new play award (Finalist) – Sodom 1998
- Sanlam/RSG Radio Drama award (Winner) – Praatmaar 2000
- KKNK/Nagtegaal Best play award – Vrededorp 2005
- Maskew Miller Longman drama award – The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife 2008
- KKNK/Nagtegaal Best play award (Finalist) – Agterplaas 2009
- ATKV Woordveertjie Drama award (Finalist) – Agterplaas 2010
- Sanlam/RSG Radio Drama award (Finalist) – Offer 2013
- BBC Radio Drama Commendation- Sacfrice 2013
- Standardbank Ovation award – Ella's Horses 2014
- South African Academy of Science and Arts Medal of Honour for Radio Drama – Offer 2014
- Sanlam/RSG Radio Drama award (Winner) – Vergifnis 2015
- Big Boys/More Market Theater Plays – Jonathan Ball Publishers 1993
- Don Gxubane onner die Boere – New Contrast Publishers 1993
- Vrygrond e.a. Dramas – Tafelberg Publishers 1994
- Vonkfiksie – Human & Rousseau Publishers 1999
- Vrededorp – Genugtig Publishers 2005
- New South African Plays – Aurora Metro Publishers (UK) 2006
- 'Kwintet' Ella se Perde – Maskew Miller Longman 2008
- The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife – Maskew Miller Longman 2008
- Droomskip e.a. Radio dramas – Nasou-Via Afrika 2009
- Vrededorp – Protea Boekehuis 2011
- The Lighthouse keeper's wife – NB Best Books 2015
- "Charles J Fourie". Lit Net. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- "Fourie's Mouthpiece for the Curious". Mail & Guardian. 30 September 1994. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "Charles J. Fourie's THE PARROT WOMAN Sees Revival at The Rosebank Theatre, Sept 18–29". Broadway World. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- "New South African Plays". Amazon. Retrieved 26 March 2014.