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 The creative team includes Fourie, who wrote the introductory scene with extracts from Athol Fugard's unpublished notebooks, Eugene Lee (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes), Michael Chybowski (lights), and John Gromada (sound).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.




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