SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD Returns to the Fugard Theatre, 27-30 August

Athol Fugard and Marviantoz Baker
Photo credit: Jesse Kramer

Due to overwhelming demand the Fugard Theatre is proud to announce five additional performances of THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD, the beautiful play presented by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre that stars Athol Fugard himself and introduces Marviantos Baker, from 27 to 30 August 2014. This will be the very final chance audiences will have to see this remarkable production.

Following the season at PACOFS in Bloemfontein, the production will return to Cape Town to the Fugard's Studio Theatre where it played to rave reviews and capacity houses after opening last month before transferring to the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Both the Cape Town and Johannesburg seasons sold out well in advance of opening. In THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD, Fugard takes on the role of Oupa, a retired South African teacher living in self-imposed exile in Southern California, and is joined onstage by Baker, playing his grandson, Boba. During the course of one afternoon spent together, Oupa and Boba leap across a generational divide to teach and be taught, and to be reminded that the transient beauty of the world is seen too briefly through unassuming eyes.

Inspired by Fugard's relationship with his own grandson, Gavyn Fugard Scranton, this intimate play has deep autobiographical roots and Fugard has dedicated the play to him. The overlapping boundaries between autobiography and fictional storytelling are further explored in Paula Fourie's moving introductory scene, which, with recourse to Fugard's notebooks, places extracts from his personal observations of the past 50 years into his character, Oupa's, mouth.

Photo credit: Jesse Kramer

Fugard was born in 1932 in Middelburg, in the Karoo desert region of South Africa. He has written close to forty plays, four books and several screenplays. Although he still travels regularly, as of 2013, he regards his house in the Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda, South Africa, as his permanent home. His work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa, through the first democratic elections, when Nelson Mandela became president, and into present-day post-apartheid South Africa. His plays include THE BLOOD KNOT, BOESMAN AND LENA, "MASTER HAROLD"... AND THE BOYS, THE ROAD TO MECCA and HELLO AND GOODBYE. Many of his works have been turned into films, including TSOTSI, based on his 1980 novel, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Fugard's appearance in this play marks his return to the stage as an actor after an absence of fifteen years. One of the most performed playwrights in the world, and South Africa's best-known playwright, at eighty-one, Fugard continues to direct and write plays. "People have begun to ask in the past couple of years whether my storytelling has shifted from the political to the personal", Fugard muses. "My answer has always been - once you reach 80, the time has arrived for a little bit of housecleaning. After all, as Oupa says at the start of the play, 'The final landscape is within.'" Yet Fugard maintains that he has never been a political playwright: "All my plays tell South African stories about people in their specific time and place. That has not changed."

Marviantoz Baker and Athol Fugard
Photo credit: Jesse Kramer

The artistic team includes Fourie as co-director. Born in South Africa in 1985 to a family in the diplomatic service, Fourie spent the majority of her childhood living in the USA and Europe, returning to South Africa without having witnessed firsthand the turbulent final years of apartheid. Having begun writing in her teenage years and 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 with 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 her manuscript on Petersen for publication. Writing in both English and Afrikaans, her poetry has appeared in several South African poetry journals. Fourie has been working with Athol Fugard since 2012. This is her first published excursion into the world of playwriting. Mannie Manim (lighting), Saul Radomsky (sets and costume), James Webb (sound) and Ben du Plessis (animation) round out the creative team of THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD.

THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD runs at the Fugard Studio Theatre from 27 to 30 August at 8pm with one matinee performance on the 27 August at 4pm. Tickets, ranging from R110 to R150, are now available via Computicket or the Theatre's box office on 021 461 4554. Advance booking is highly recommended.

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