Athol Fugard – South African Playwright

Athol Fugard, an internationally renowned, award-winning South African Playwright. Tsotsi, written by Athol Fugard in 1989 and filmed in 2005, did much to shoot South African film into the limelight. Best known for his insights into the lives of South African’s, Athol Fugard, as a white man went beyond the bounds of color in his writings. Let us take a brief look into the life of this unique individual.

Born as Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard in 1932 at Middelburg, South Africa, his parents were Afrikaans and English. He attended the University of Cape Town, but left to hitchhike through Africa. Not long after that he worked as a deck hand aboard a ship which took him around the world.

Athol Fugard tried his hand at acting, whereafter he decided to begin writing plays. Fugard’s works were mostly set in South Africa. His characters were well-developed with weaknesses and strengths that would not allow them to fit into societies norms and a dominant woman often featured. It was later in the 1950s that Athol Fugard began to work with a collection of actors in the city of Johannesburg. His first play “No Good Friday” was well received on an international level. Fugard’s next play “The Blood Knot” earned him the ire of the government who confiscated his passport. During the start of the 1960s he made his way back to Port Elizabeth where he came to work with The Serpent Players. Athol Fugard developed a friendship with Yvonne Bryceland and her husband Brain Astbury when playing in “Boesman and Lena” and thus he was able to work at Cape Town’s Space Theater.

Athol Fugard’s plays have been seen on South African stages, premiered in London and received in New York. He has received several awards for his excellent works including an Obie Award, Tony Award, London Evening Standard Award and Writers Guild Award. An actor, playwright and novelist, Athol Fugard has certainly built up a remarkable record and has certainly left his mark on South African literature.

If you can get your hands on one or two of the following plays or get a chance to see one performed, you will find them absolutely fascinating:

“A lesson from aloes”
“Marigolds in August”
“Boesman and Lena”
“People are living there”
“Master Harold and the boys”
“Hello and Goodbye”
“Valley song”
“Exits and Entrances”