South African theatre legend Athol Fugard will return to the stage in his 82nd year to continue his relationship with the Cape Town theatre that bears his name in the premiere of ‘The Shadow of the Hummingbird’. The production will be showcased at the Fugard Theatre in July.
‘The Shadow of the Hummingbird’ is written and will be directed by Fugard, with an introductory scene by Paula Fourie.
The production follows Fugard’s 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, who returns to the stage this year after an absence of 15 years, will play opposite Marviantos Baker in this intimate, delicate two-hander. Besides Fugard, the artistic team includes Fourie (co-director), Mannie Manim (lighting), Saul Radomsky (sets and 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.
‘The Shadow of the Hummingbird’ is 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, the 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.’”
* The Shadow of the Hummingbird will show run at the Fugard Theatre for a very limited season from July 10 to 26, before it can be seen at Johannesburg’s Market Theatre.
For more information, visit www.thefugard.com.
Tickets, ranging from R110 to R150, for the season at the Fugard Theatre can now be booked at www.computicket.com, or the Theatre’s box office on 021 461 4554.