Athol Fugard's THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD to Make World Premiere at Long Wharf Theatre, 3/26-4/27

Athol Fugard's THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD to Make World Premiere at Long Wharf Theatre, 3/26-4/27

Long Wharf Theatre presents the world premiere of The Shadow of the Hummingbird, written by and starring Athol Fugard, with an introductory scene by Paula Fourie, and directed by Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

The play will take place on Stage II from March 26 through April 27, 2014. Tickets are $40-$70.

In addition to Fugard, the cast includes Aiden McMillan and Dermot McMillan, alternating in the role of his grandson Boba. The creative team includes Fourie, who wrote the introductory scene with extracts from Athol Fugard's unpublished notebooks, Eugene Lee (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes), Michael Chybowski (lights), and John Gromada (sound). Jason Kaiser is the stage manager.

Fugard returns to the stage for the first time in 15 years in his newest play. When Fugard's character of Oupa is visited by his ten-year-old grandson (who is playing hooky from school) the two spend a memorable afternoon together. The boy reminds the old man of his lost sense of wonder, while the child is given a bit of hard-earned wisdom. In a charming meditation on the beauty and transience of the world around us, Fugard continues to mine the depths of the human spirit with profound empathy and heart.

Fugard continues his fruitful relationship with Long Wharf Theatre, which has recently produced his The Train Driver, Have You Seen Us?, and Coming Home. "This is a great work by a late master about living and dying, and how to live one's life," Edelstein said. "It is written by and starring one of the most important voices in the world theatre in the last fifty years. We are honored that Athol has chosen to give us his newest play."

"I've never worked with Gordon as an actor before, so I think I'll give him a hard time," Fugard joked.

The play is inspired by Fugard's relationship with his own grandson. They spend their time fishing, bird watching and talking. It is one of the great joys of Fugard's life. "It has been terribly important to me," he said. "My daughter has given me so many great gifts in my life, but this is one to beat them all ... There is an incredible innocence when we leap over one generation and connect," he said.

The Shadow of the Hummingbird is an apolitical, quiet work, dealing with perhaps the underlying theme of much of Fugard's writing. "It is a play about love. That is the primal energy I use in my writing. If I don't love something I can't write about it. Love is an incredible, indefinable, mysterious energy," he said.

For more information about The Shadow of the Hummingbird or to purchase tickets, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

Athol Fugard, born in 1932 in Middelburg, in the Karoo desert region of South Africa, battled to bring the stories of all South Africans to the world, even under the darkest years of apartheid, that abusive system that had one set of laws for whites, and another for people of color. A recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, in 2005 he was awarded South Africa's highest award, the Ikhamanga Medal, and in 2011, a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award. Fugard's best known plays include Bloodknot (1961), Boesman and Lena (1969), Sizwe Bansi is Dead (1972), The Island (1973), "Master Harold" ... and the boys (1982), The Road to Mecca (1984) and My Children! My Africa! (1989). In 2006, the film Tsotsi, based on his 1961 novel, won the Academy Award and top awards at various film festivals. Recent plays include Coming Home (2008) and Have You Seen Us (2009), both of which premiered at the Long Wharf Theatre. His latest plays, The Train Driver (2010), The Bird Watchers (2011) and his first Afrikaans play, Die Laaste Karretjiegraf (2012), written to fulfill a promise to his Afrikaans mother, were all premiered at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa. Besides over thirty plays, his published work includes journals, novels, short stories and screenplays. His plays are now part of the international canon, constantly performed, and taught in schools around the world. The Shadow of the Hummingbird, receiving its premiere during the Long Wharf Theatre's current season, is dedicated to his nine year-old grandson, Gavyn Fugard Scranton. Fugard's appearance in this play marks his return to the stage as an actor after an absence of fifteen years. Although he still regularly travels to direct his plays, as of 2013, he regards his Karoo house in the village of Nieu Bethesda, South Africa, as his permanent home.

Identical twins Aidan and Dermot McMillan have been interested in performing arts since they were toddlers. They sing as frequently as they speak with a repertoire that ranges from Woody Guthrie to West Side Story. As actors, they have appeared two years running in the Hartford Stage production of A Christmas Carol. They have also appeared in Artfarms's Shakespeare Everywhere and the Vintage Players production of Loves of Cass McGuire. The boys sing and dance in the SteveSongs (PBS), Recess Rocks video. They also create their own videos with Aidan directing, and Dermot acting. Aidan and Dermot are fifth-graders at Macdonough Elementary School in Middletown. They have studied acting at Oddfellows Children Theater, and the Hartford Stage Cabaret, and receive coaching from Carolyn Kirsch. They play guitar and fiddle and perform and sing harmony as Mirror Image. Aidan plays sax in the Macdonough school band, and Dermot plays clarinet. Aidan and Dermot love tennis, skiing, hiking, science, swimming, reading, films, Magic Cards, Minecraft and Mad Magazine.

Gordon Edelstein is in his twelfth season as Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre. His most recentLong Wharf Theatre credits include The Underpants, Ride the Tiger, Curse of the Starving Class,Satchmo at the Waldorf, My Name is Asher Lev, Shirley Valentine, and his own adaptations of A Doll'sHouse and Uncle Vanya. His acclaimed Long Wharf Theatre production of The Glass Menagerieplayed the Roundabout and the Mark Taper Forum and was the recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival. He has also begun an association with Athol Fugard, directing his most recent work The Train Driver, and world premieres of Have You Seen Us? and Coming Home at Long Wharf Theatre. He also recently directed the Broadway production of Fugard's The Road to Mecca for the Roundabout Theatre Company. Among Mr. Edelstein's countless plays and workshops for Long Wharf Theatre include Julia Cho's BFE, The Day the Bronx Died, A Dance Lesson, and The Times, as well as The Blue Album, We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, A New War, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Anna Christie, The Front Page, and Mourning Becomes Electra. As a director of an extremely diverse body of work, he has garnered three Connecticut Critics Circle Awards and under his artistic leadership, Long Wharf Theatre has received 17 additional Connecticut Critics Circle Awards, including six best actor or actress awards in plays that he directed. He is also the recipient of the organization's Tom Killen Award, given annually to an individual who has made an indelible impact on the Connecticut theatrical landscape.

Born in 1985 South Africa to a family in the diplomatic service, Paula Fourie spent the majority of her childhood living in the US and Europe, returning to South Africa without having witnessed firsthand the turbulent final years of apartheid. Having begun writing in her teenage years (also winning a national writing competition with a short story in 2002) she has continued her creative writing alongside her work as a musicologist and choral conductor. In 2013, she obtained her PhD from Stellenbosch University, having written a biography of South African musician and musical theatre composer Taliep Petersen as her dissertation. Her published academic work includes book reviews, interviews and journal articles, and she is currently reworking hermanuscript on Petersen for publication. Writing in both English and Afrikaans, her poetry has appeared in several South African poetry journals. Engaging with the different mediums of poetry, prose and academic writing, she has become very interested in exploring the boundaries between historiography and fiction. Fourie has been working with Athol Fugard since 2012. This is her first excursion into the world of playwriting.

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