Cover image for The dramatic art of Athol Fugard : from South Africa to the world
The dramatic art of Athol Fugard : from South Africa to the world
Wertheim, Albert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 273 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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PR9369.3.F8 Z95 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"Albert Wertheim's study of Fugard's plays is both extremely insightful and beautifully written... This book is aimed not only at teachers, students, scholars, and performers of Fugard but also at the person who simply loves going to see a Fugard play at the theatre." --Nancy Topping Bazin, Eminent Scholar and Professor Emerita, Old Dominion University

Athol Fugard is considered one of the most brilliant, powerful, and theatrically astute of modern dramatists. The energy and poignancy of his work have their origins in the institutionalized racism of his native South Africa, and more recently in the issues facing a new South Africa after apartheid. Albert Wertheim analyzes the form and content of Fugard's dramas, showing that they are more than a dramatic chronicle of South African life and racial problems. Beginning with the specifics of his homeland, Fugard's plays reach out to engage more far-reaching issues of human relationships, race and racism, and the power of art to evoke change. The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard demonstrates how Fugard's plays enable us to see that what is performed on stage can also be performed in society and in our lives; how, inverting Shakespeare, Athol Fugard makes his stage the world.

Author Notes

Albert Wertheim is Professor of English and of Theatre and Drama at Indiana University. He has published widely on modern and classic British and American drama and on post-colonial writing; directed several NEH seminars on politics in the theatre and on new literatures from Africa, the West Indies, and the Pacific; and served on the editorial boards of American Drama, Theatre Survey, South African Theatre Journal, and Westerly.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Wertheim (English, theater, and drama, Indiana Univ.) masterfully provides a scholarly analysis of Athol Fugard's plays to date. Fugard, best known for Master Haroldand the Boys, is one of South Africa's most respected playwrights. Since his career began in the late 1950s, he has documented South African racial strife in the midst of apartheid and explored larger issues such as the dynamics of human relationships. In his early works, Fugard focused primarily on institutionalized racism, but his post-apartheid plays have taken a more intimate direction while still maintaining the overall background of struggle in his homeland. Wertheim organizes the plays chronologically and then systematically explores their themes and structure. Because Fugard's work has not had serious attention in over ten yearsDsince Dennis Walder's Athol Fugard (St. Martin's, 1990)Dit is due for this re-examination. Recommended for African literature and theater collections.DJ. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Regional Lib., Tifton, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Wertheim (Indiana Univ.) identifies South African playwright Athol Fugard as arguably "the most distinguished living English-language playwright." Some of Fugard's best-known plays include The Blood Knot, Sizwe Bans Is Dead, A Lesson from Aloes, and "Master Harold" ... and the Boys, and Wertheim notes in his introduction that he has seen performances of almost all of Fugard's canon (the exceptions: No-Good Friday, Nongogo, and Dimetos). The subject of Fugard's plays is often "the human toll [that] racism leaves in its wake, wherever it is practiced." According to Wertheim, one of the larger, existential truths of Fugard's plays is the capacity of humankind not only to endure but to transcend its tragic fate; Fugard's parabolic style enables him to provide "a general insight open to many applications." Wertheim's study has two particular strengths (among many): its insight into the evolution of the playwright, especially the influence of Albert Camus, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett on Fugard's canon, and its illumination of the symbolic props in the plays, e.g., the shoes and stockings in People Are Living There. An authoritative work superbly written, this book is well suited to upper-division undergraduates and above. T. L. Jackson St. Cloud State University

Table of Contents

1 Early Work and Early Themes
2 The Port Elizabeth Plays: The Voice with Which We Speak from the Heart
3 'Acting' Against Apartheid
4 Dimetos: Fugard's First Problem Play
5 The Drama as Teaching and Learning: Trauerspiel, Tragedy, Hope and Race
6 The Other Problem Plays
7 Writing to Right: Scripting Apartheid's Demise
8 Where Do We, Where Do I, Go from Here?: Performing a New South Africa
Works Cited