Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard bigraphy, stories - South African playwright

Athol Fugard : biography

11 June 1932 –

Athol Fugard (born 11 June 1932) is a South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director who writes in English. He is best known for his political plays opposing the South African system of apartheid and for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film of his novel Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood. Fugard is an adjunct professor of playwriting, acting and directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego. Forthe academic year 2000–2001, he was the IU Class of 1963 Wells Scholar Professor at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. (RealAudio clip of interview.) The recipient of many awards, honours, and honorary degrees, including the 2005 Order of Ikhamanga in Silver "for his excellent contribution and achievements in the theatre" from the government of South Africa, he is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.



(in chronological order of first production and/or publication)Fisher observes in the Fugard "Biography" section of Athol Fugard: Statements that South African writer and critic Stephen Gray classifies many of Fugard’s dramatic works according to chronological periods of composition and similarities of style: "Apprenticeship" ([1956–]1957); "Social Realism" (1958–1961); "Chamber Theatre" (1961–1970); "Improvised Theatre" (1966–1973); and "Poetic Symbolism" (1975[–1990]).
  • Klaas and the Devil (1956)
  • The Cell (1957)
  • No-Good Friday (1958)
  • Nongogo (1959)
  • The Blood Knot (1961); later revised and entitled Blood Knot (1987)
  • Hello and Goodbye (1965)
  • The Coat (1966)
  • People Are Living There (1968)
  • The Last Bus (1969)
  • Boesman and Lena (1969)
  • Friday’s Bread on Monday (1970)
  • Sizwe Bansi Is Dead (1972) (developed with John Kani, and Winston Ntshona in workshops)
  • The Island (1972) (developed with John Kani, and Winston Ntshona in workshops)
  • Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act (1972)
  • Dimetos (1975)
  • Orestes (1978)
  • A Lesson from Aloes (1978)
  • The Drummer (1980)
  • Master Harold…and the Boys (1982)
  • The Road to Mecca (1984)
  • A Place with the Pigs: a personal parable (1987)
  • My Children! My Africa! (1989)
  • My Life (1992)
  • Playland (1993)
  • Valley Song (1996)
  • The Captain’s Tiger: a memoir for the stage (1997)
  • Sorrows and Rejoicings (2001)
  • Exits and Entrances (2004)
  • Booitjie and the Oubaas (2006)
  • Victory (2007)
  • Coming Home (2009)
  • Have You Seen Us (2009)
  • The Train Driver (2010)


Early period

In 1958, Fugard organised "a multiracial theatre for which he wrote, directed, and acted", writing and producing several plays for it, including No-Good Friday (1958) and Nongogo (1959), in which he and his colleague black South African actor Zakes Mokae performed.

After returning to Port Elizabeth in the early 1960s, Athol and Sheila Fugard started The Circle Players, which derives its name from their influential production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, by Bertolt Brecht. (Google Books.)

In 1961, in Johannesburg, Fugard and Mokae starred as the brothers Morris and Zachariah in the single-performance world première of Fugard’s play The Blood Knot (revised and retitled Blood Knot in 1987), directed by Barney Simon.

In 1962, Fugard publicly supported the Anti-Apartheid Movement (1959–94), an international boycott of South African theatres due to their segregated audiences, leading to government restrictions on him and surveillance of him and his theatre by the Secret Police, and leading him to have his plays published and produced outside South Africa.