Milwaukee Chamber Theatre to Present THE TRAIN DRIVER, 2/25–3/15

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) continues its 40th Anniversary season, with the Midwest premiere of THE TRAIN DRIVER by Athol Fugard. MCT Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright, who has collaborated with Fugard in the past, directs this hard-hitting new drama. Performances are February 25 - March 15, 2015 at the Broadway Theatre Center's Studio Theatre in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward.

In THE TRAIN DRIVER, Roelf Visagie is desperately searching for the identities of a mother and child he unintentionally killed with his train. After an unsuccessful journey through shanty towns, his quest eventually leads him to an eye-opening encounter with an old gravedigger.

Inspired by an actual event in South Africa, Athol Fugard's new drama explores themes of guilt, redemption and brotherhood in a post-Apartheid world. THE TRAIN DRIVER premiered in 2010 at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa, where it was directed by Fugard himself.

"This is for me the whole; it's my truth and reconciliation. I think all of my writing life led up to the writing of THE TRAIN DRIVER because it deals with my own inherited blindness and guilt and all of what being a white South African in South Africa during those apartheid years meant." -Athol Fugard

One of our greatest living playwrights, Athol Fugard was born in South Africa in 1932 to English and Afrikaner parents. He has received international acclaim and his best-known work deals with the political and social upheaval of the Apartheid system in South Africa.

The premiere of Fugard's play THE BLOOD KNOT, in Johannesburg in 1961, marked the first time a black man and a white man appeared together on stage in South Africa. When THE BLOOD KNOT was produced in England, the South African government withdrew his passport for four years. His other plays include "MASTER HAROLD" ...and the boys, THE ROAD TO MECCA, THE CAPTAIN'S TIGER, VALLEY SONG, BOESMAN AND LENA, MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA!, A LESSON FROM ALOES, EXITS AND ENTRANCES and SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD. Fugard frequently directs and performs in his plays which are regularly performed in theatres in South Africa, Great Britain, the United States and around the world. Several of his plays have been adapted for the screen and his novel Tsotsi was made into a film that won the 2005 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2011 he received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre.

MCT Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright, who has a remarkable history with Fugard and his work, will direct THE TRAIN DRIVER. In 1983, Wright appeared in Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD"...and the boys on Broadway, in Israel and in the national tour, which were all directed by the playwright.

When asked about Fugard, Wright said, "Athol Fugard is one of my heroes. I love the issues he writes about. Even though his plays are specific to his South African experience, his themes are universal and the stories he chooses to tell have such profound impact and resonance."

The cast features David Daniel as the train driver Roelf Visagie and Michael A. Torrey as the gravedigger Simon Hanabe. Daniel's past MCT appearances include ANCESTRAL VOICES (2001) and THE HERBAL BED (2002). He also serves as both a Core Company member and the Education Director at American Players Theatre in Spring Green. Torrey returns to MCT after performing in DRIVING MISS DAISY (2011), directed by C. Michael Wright. Based in Chicago, he has performed at numerous regional theatres. Locally Torrey has performed with First Stage and Next Act Theatre, where he was seen in Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD"...and the boys, also directed by Wright.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's history with Fugard's work includes THE ROAD TO MECCA (1990), MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA! (1993), VALLEY SONG (1998) and A LESSON FROM ALOES (2007). Producing a new work by this renowned playwright is an ideal way to continue the 40th anniversary celebration of "Something Old, Borrowed and New."

[ SPECIAL EVENTS ]

--Pre-performance ViewPoints: a free, pre-show presentation about South Africa by UWM professors Rob Smith and Nicole Ridgway on Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Skylight Bar & Bistro.

--Pre-performance Talk Theatre: MCT Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright will lead a lively and informative chat with Scenic Designer Lisa Schlenker and Props Master Melissa Centgraf beginning at 12:00 noon before the matinee onWednesday, March 11 in the Skylight Bar & Bistro.

--Post-performance Talkbacks: Post-show discussion with the director and cast following performances on Thursday, March 5 and Thursday, March 12.

THE TRAIN DRIVER performances are February 25 - March 15, 2015 (Opening Night: Friday, February 27) in the Broadway Theatre Center's Studio Theatre, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. Tickets are available Monday through Saturday from noon-6:00 p.m. at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by phone at (414) 291-7800. Tickets can be purchased online - 24 hours a day at milwaukeechambertheatre.com. Group, student and senior discounts are also available. For more information, visit milwaukeechambertheatre.com. The production is co-sponsored by Lloyd & Mary Ann Gerlach, Kathryn & Vern Herman and Jamshed & Deborah Patel.



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