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Athol Fugard

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ENTERTAINMENT
May 12, 1998 | By Clifford A. Ridley, INQUIRER THEATER CRITIC
When the obscenity called apartheid was banished from South African life, many assumed that the man who had most passionately chronicled its corrosive evils would flounder in search of a subject. Apartheid and its dehumanizing effects had been Athol Fugard's moral obsession, recorded in a string of lacerating plays from The Blood Knot to Playland. In his first post-apartheid play, however, Fugard crossed everyone up. Valley Song, given its American premiere at McCarter Theatre in 1995, was a sweet little fable of a black teenage girl, her grandpa, and two generations' very different ideas of how to deal with a country in which hope had suddenly put in an appearance.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 3, 1989 | By Douglas J. Keating, Inquirer Staff Writer
The plays of South African writer Athol Fugard typically deal with the racial problems of his native land. They also focus primarily on male characters, with women in supporting roles. In The Road to Mecca, race is dealt with only tangentially, and the central characters are two women. The play proves that Fugard does not need the emotionally charged issue of apartheid to energize his imagination and that he can create women who are as vivid as his men. The strong characters and nonracial focus of this forceful play could make it Fugard's most-produced work in this country.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 22, 1995 | By Douglas J. Keating, INQUIRER THEATER CRITIC
For more than three decades Athol Fugard was a powerful literary voice opposing the white government of South Africa. In plays such as The Blood Knot, Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, A Lesson From Aloes, Master Harold . . . and the boys, My Children! My Africa! and Playland, he eloquently detailed the dehumanizing effects of the official policy of racial separation. Then something happened the 63-year-old Fugard had never expected to see in his lifetime. The white-controlled government suddenly yielded.
NEWS
June 11, 1992 | By Rick Lyman, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Athol Fugard, looking a bit like John the Baptist as played by Willie Nelson, if Willie Nelson had taken better care of himself, stroked his dirty- gray beard and let a deep network of wrinkles spread across his tawny face. "I am very aware that the days of apartheid have passed," said the man who has been hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as the greatest living playwright in the English language. Fugard is not sure how it will end - through continuing negotiations between the white government and the African National Congress, or through a revolt he is certain their failure would produce.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 23, 2009 | By Howard Shapiro INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The new play that opened Wednesday at the Wilma Theater seems to have been written by two completely different playwrights. Act 1 comes from a playwright who is indulgent with himself and his characters, giving them one insufferably talky, hour-long scene in which nothing happens. Why are we being invited to see this play? Who knows. Wake me when it's over. Act 2 comes from a playwright who, without all that much reference to Act 1, easily sets up dramatic tension, quickly details his characters, and brings this hour to a beautifully crafted, elegant theatrical closure.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 15, 2006 | By Toby Zinman FOR THE INQUIRER
My Children! My Africa!, in a major revival at the Wilma Theater, begins with a spirited debate between two high school students; she's white, he's black, and their eloquent and passionate discussion will continue through the play, morphing from topic to topic, shifting from side to side. Athol Fugard's humanism refuses to play the polemics game, and instead makes us feel the rightness and the wrongness of each position. Written in 1989, before the end of apartheid in South Africa, this play must have been terrifying and electrifying when it was first performed in Johannesburg.
NEWS
September 24, 1993 | by Nels Nelson, Daily News Theater Critic
Two-character plays can be as exhilarating as a brace of philosophy professors discussing a syllogism or as fluid as a badminton match played on elephantback. Which is to say, you pays your money and you takes your choice. "Playland," which opened the Wilma Theater's season this week, is the second two-character play by Athol Fugard that I have seen - the first was his "Blood Knot," performed here in 1985 with Zakes Mokae and Fugard himself comprising the cast - and I need no further proof that Fugard knows exactly what to do with his characters to keep things interesting - and even riveting - for a couple of hours.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 22, 2006 | By Howard Shapiro INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
In St. George's Park Tea Room, it's hard to tell the men from the boys. The back and forth between a white college teen whose family owns the place and the two black employees who work there is playful, comfortable, easy. Until things heat up. Athol Fugard set "Master Harold" . . . and the Boys, his crescendo of a play about a boy and the servants who have come to be his lifelong confidants, in 1950 South Africa, when official apartheid was still new. The sheer intelligence - and ultimately the raw power - of Master Harold makes the 1982 play as vibrant now, 13 years after South Africa's period of legal racism ended, as it was then.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 1, 2014 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
Created by the playwright/director/theorist Peter Brook, with his longtime collaborator Marie-Helene Estienne, The Suit is a touching musical play about life in South Africa under the tyranny of apartheid. Now at the Prince Music Theater, the show has been on tour, first in London, then New York, and is on its way to Washington. It stars the beautiful Nonhlanhla Kheswa as a young wife who longs for "more" in her life. Her husband (Ivanno Jeremiah) learns she has been cheating on him, and when he comes home unexpectedly one morning, he scares off her lover, who leaves behind his suit.
NEWS
January 17, 2012 | By Howard Shapiro, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
NEW YORK - To honor the 80th birthday of celebrated South African playwright Athol Fugard, The Road to Mecca , a play he wrote in the mid-'80s, opened Tuesday night for the first time on Broadway. We have many reasons to celebrate Fugard - foremost, his creation of exceptional theater in his unswerving march against the official racism of South African apartheid - but The Road to Mecca is not among them. It's a ho-hum play with a dull first act, as tedious as cleaning up the piles on your desk, and with a second act that fails to deliver even the satisfaction of at least a clean desktop.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 19, 2014 | By Jim Rutter, For The Inquirer
For more than 50 years, South African playwright Athol Fugard used his writing to fight apartheid in his native land. Apartheid ended in 1994; the Lantern Theater's stirring, if exhausting, production of Fugard's 2010 The Train Driver shows the playwright still needs something to fight against. The Train Driver opens on Simon (Kirk Wendell Brown), a black gravedigger whose daily life is interrupted by Roelf (Peter DeLaurier), a white train driver traumatized when his locomotive killed a young black woman who walked onto the tracks with her baby.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 1, 2014 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
Created by the playwright/director/theorist Peter Brook, with his longtime collaborator Marie-Helene Estienne, The Suit is a touching musical play about life in South Africa under the tyranny of apartheid. Now at the Prince Music Theater, the show has been on tour, first in London, then New York, and is on its way to Washington. It stars the beautiful Nonhlanhla Kheswa as a young wife who longs for "more" in her life. Her husband (Ivanno Jeremiah) learns she has been cheating on him, and when he comes home unexpectedly one morning, he scares off her lover, who leaves behind his suit.
NEWS
January 17, 2012 | By Howard Shapiro, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
NEW YORK - To honor the 80th birthday of celebrated South African playwright Athol Fugard, The Road to Mecca , a play he wrote in the mid-'80s, opened Tuesday night for the first time on Broadway. We have many reasons to celebrate Fugard - foremost, his creation of exceptional theater in his unswerving march against the official racism of South African apartheid - but The Road to Mecca is not among them. It's a ho-hum play with a dull first act, as tedious as cleaning up the piles on your desk, and with a second act that fails to deliver even the satisfaction of at least a clean desktop.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 23, 2009 | By Howard Shapiro INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The new play that opened Wednesday at the Wilma Theater seems to have been written by two completely different playwrights. Act 1 comes from a playwright who is indulgent with himself and his characters, giving them one insufferably talky, hour-long scene in which nothing happens. Why are we being invited to see this play? Who knows. Wake me when it's over. Act 2 comes from a playwright who, without all that much reference to Act 1, easily sets up dramatic tension, quickly details his characters, and brings this hour to a beautifully crafted, elegant theatrical closure.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 10, 2009 | By Toby Zinman FOR THE INQUIRER
South African playwright Athol Fugard's new play Coming Home will start previews Wednesday and launch the Wilma Theater's season a week later. A sequel to 1995's Valley Song, it takes up the life of Veronica, who as a girl years before left her grandfather's farm in South Africa's Karoo region to seek fame and fortune as a singer in Cape Town. Valley Song was written in the early post-apartheid era, at a time when South African "hearts were filled with hope," the 77-year-old Fugard said in a recent phone interview.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 6, 2009 | By Toby Zinman FOR THE INQUIRER
Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, by Lantern Theater Company at St. Stephen's Theater, is about the bad old days, when apartheid ruled the lives of South Africa's black populace and that country was the pariah of the world. Athol Fugard's plays cry the beloved country, revealing its cruelty and injustice not with easy propaganda or preachy cant, but with powerful theater. Fugard's best, and best known, plays - "Master Harold" . . . and the boys, The Blood Knot, My Children! My Africa!, and The Road to Mecca - are about the complexities of relationships, not merely the simplifications of skin color.
NEWS
October 23, 2008 | By Wendy Rosenfield FOR THE INQUIRER
Delaware Theatre Company's production of "Master Harold" . . . And the Boys is, like any Athol Fugard play, not an evening's light entertainment. South African Fugard - half Afrikaner, half European - has spent his life examining apartheid's bitter existence from every conceivable angle, including its current position, rotting on the autopsy table. Perhaps the best known of his works, "Master Harold" draws deeply from Fugard's upbringing in 1950s Port Elizabeth. The script's schoolboy, Hally (Seamus Mulcahy)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 15, 2006 | By Toby Zinman FOR THE INQUIRER
My Children! My Africa!, in a major revival at the Wilma Theater, begins with a spirited debate between two high school students; she's white, he's black, and their eloquent and passionate discussion will continue through the play, morphing from topic to topic, shifting from side to side. Athol Fugard's humanism refuses to play the polemics game, and instead makes us feel the rightness and the wrongness of each position. Written in 1989, before the end of apartheid in South Africa, this play must have been terrifying and electrifying when it was first performed in Johannesburg.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 22, 2006 | By Howard Shapiro INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
In St. George's Park Tea Room, it's hard to tell the men from the boys. The back and forth between a white college teen whose family owns the place and the two black employees who work there is playful, comfortable, easy. Until things heat up. Athol Fugard set "Master Harold" . . . and the Boys, his crescendo of a play about a boy and the servants who have come to be his lifelong confidants, in 1950 South Africa, when official apartheid was still new. The sheer intelligence - and ultimately the raw power - of Master Harold makes the 1982 play as vibrant now, 13 years after South Africa's period of legal racism ended, as it was then.
NEWS
May 6, 2001
For more than 40 years, South African playwright Athol Fugard has used writing as a tool of storytelling, teaching and protest. His great subject has been his native land. His new play "Sorrows and Rejoicings," now debuting at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, addresses questions of race, exile, and the new South Africa. He spoke to Commentary Page editor John Timpane about the play and his hopes for his country. John Timpane: In a searing exit line, one of your characters, Allison, says that the younger generation in the new South Africa "are going to need all the love [they]
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