The Fugard Theatre Announces THE ROAD TO MECCA to Celebrate Athol Fugard's 85th Birthday

The Fugard Theatre Announces THE ROAD TO MECCA to Celebrate Athol Fugard's 85th Birthday
Emily Child, Sandra Prinsloo and Marius Weyers
will star in THE ROAD TO MECCA

This Sunday, 11 June 2017, Athol Fugard celebrates his 85th birthday and the Fugard Theatre will mark this occasion with an all South African, star-studded production of his acclaimed play THE ROAD TO MECCA.

Eric Abraham presents this Fugard Theatre production, which will run at the Fugard Theatre in March and April 2018 before transferring to the Market Theatre in Johannesburg for a limited season.

Inspired by Helen Martins, who lived in Nieu-Bethesda and created the now-famous The Owl House - which is designated a provincial heritage site - THE ROAD TO MECCA is the story of a woman's desire for personal and artistic freedom within the narrow confines of a conservative and highly religious community in the Karoo in early seventies apartheid South Africa. Fugard wrote this play in 1984, creating the lead role of Miss Helen for the late South African theatre star Yvonne Bryceland.

The new production will star Sandra Prinsloo (SO RY MISS DAISY, WIE'S BANG VIR VIRGINIA WOOLF?, OSKAR EN DIE PIENK TANNIE) as Miss Helen, with Marius Weyers (THE FATHER, OOM WANJA/UNCLE VANYA, HAMLET) as Rev. Marius and Emily Child (THE EULOGISTS, THE FATHER, THE PERVERT LAURA) as Elsa Barlow. Direction will be by Greg Karvellas (THE EULOGISTS, THE FATHER and the forthcoming SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE). The production will be designed by Saul Radomsky (FUNNY GIRL, CLYBOURNE PARK, THE PAINTED ROCKS AT REVOLVER CREEK) with lighting by Mannie Manim (THE MOTHER, THE PAINTED ROCKS AT REVOLVER CREEK, THE BLUE IRUS) and costumes by Birrie Le Roux (FUNNY GIRL, THE MOTHER and the forthcoming KING KONG). Sound design will be by the Fugard's resident musical director, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (FUNNY GIRL, WEST SIDE STORY and the forthcoming KING KONG).

Eric Abraham, the Founding Producer of the Fugard Theatre, comments:

We could think of no better way to mark Athol's 85th birthday in South Africa than with the Fugard Theatre's first production of The Road to Mecca with an extraordinary South African cast - theatre icons Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers and the brilliant young Emily Child.

Athol Fugard has committed his career and life to restoring our sense of a common humanity. To masterfully pricking our consciences to the injustices of apartheid, inequality and the inadequacies of the new dispensation. His deeply rooted South African narratives resonate universally. A unique figure who was the first to create roles for all South Africans - especially for black actors. His narratives and indelible black characters profoundly changed the way millions of people world over viewed apartheid. Our theatre is proud to bear his name and strive to continue his legacy as a crucible of creativity and common humanity for all South Africans.

Time Magazine regards Fugard as "the greatest active playwright in the English-speaking world".

Born in 1932 in Middelburg in the Karoo, Fugard is an internationally acclaimed playwright, director and occasional actor. For over half a century, he has written almost forty soul-searing plays with roles for all South Africans, which have moved audiences in locally and around the world to laughter and tears as they reflected the inhumanity of apartheid. His plays champion truth and a fundamental universal humanity. In 2011, he received the ultimate recognition from the world's most prestigious theatre community: a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. He is also the author of four books and several screenplays.

Fugard's work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa, through the first democratic elections and Nelson Mandela's presidency into present-day, post-apartheid South Africa. His plays include THE BLOOD KNOT, BOESMAN AND LENA, MASTER HAROLD... AND "THE BOYS", THE TRAIN DRIVER, THE BLUE IRIS and THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD. Many of his works have been turned into films, with director Gavin Hood's TSOTSI, based on his 1980 short story of the same name, winning the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film - South Africa's first Academy Award in this category.

The recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and awards, Fugard was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale global arts prize for Theatre/Film by the Japan Art Association in 2014. One of the most performed playwrights in the world, he continues to direct and write plays. He shares his life with his wife, the writer and academic Paula Fourie, and their dog, Jakkals.

Legendary theatre critic Frank Rich, writing in THE NEW YORK TIMES about THE ROAD TO MECCA, commented:

THE ROAD TO MECCA examines the core of artistry... Artists are driven to forge their version of the truth even when they have no hope of an audience, even when they must work with the most humble of materials in the middle of nowhere. Artists are dangerous because they won't deviate from that truth, no matter what pressure to conform is applied by the society around them, reminding us that the artistic conscience is inseparable from the moral conscience.

Tickets for THE ROAD TO MECCA will officially go on sale on 7 July 2017 and can be booked through the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554. Pre-bookings are available by calling the theatre directly today. There is a generous 15% discount available for the Friends of The Fugard members.

The Fugard Theatre is situated in the heart of District Six, on the corner of Harrington and Caledon Streets, Cape Town. The Harrington Street car park is available for the use of theatre patrons. Visit the cosy ground-floor bar, which opens two hours before all scheduled show times and stays open until last rounds are called, often as late as 1am. If the weather is fine, the bar on the fantastic rooftop terrace, with its panoramic views of the city, is opened. Both bars offer a range of wines from some of the Cape's top estates.

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