Press Release: Athol Fugard returns to the stage in The Shadow of the Hummingbird

May 8, 2014

Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre present the South African premiere of The Shadow of the Hummingbird, written by, starring and directed by Athol Fugard, with an introductory scene by Paula Fourie.


Following his recent South African premieres at the Fugard Theatre, including The Train Driver (2010), The Bird Watchers (2011), The Blue Iris (2012) and Die Laaste Karretjiegraf (2012), and the World premieres of the Afrikaans productions of Die Kaptein se Tier (2011) and Playland (2014), Fugard returns to the stage in his 82nd year to continue his relationship with the Cape Town theatre that bears his name.


Fugard, who returns to the stage this year after an absence of 15 years, plays opposite Marviantos Baker in this intimate, delicate two-hander. Besides Fugard, the artistic team includes Fourie (co-director), Mannie Manim (lighting), Saul Radomsky (sets & costume) and James Webb (Sound).


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.


In this play, Fugard continues to explore the nooks and crannies of the human heart with wry humor and pathos, always bringing his characteristic warmth to its situations and characters. It is also a play about love, as Fugard notes, “This is the most naked statement I have ever made about that mysterious emotion.”Inspired by Fugard’s relationship with his own grandson, Gavyn, this intimate play has deep autobiographical roots. The overlapping boundaries between autobiography and fictional storytelling are further explored in Fourie’s 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. “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.”


The Shadow of the Hummingbird runs at the Fugard Theatre for a very limited season from 10 July to 26 July, before it can be seen at Johannesburg’s Market Theatre and Bloemfontein’s PACOFS. For more information visit the Fugard Theatre’s website on or call the box office on 021 461 454.Tickets, ranging from R110 to R150, for the season at the Fugard Theatre are now available via computicket or the Theatre’s box office on 021 461 4554.This is a special production, which sees Athol Fugard return to the stage for perhaps the very last time and tickets will sell out fast – so advance bookings are highly recommended.


Press release provided by Allison Foat, Diva PR.

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