The Shadow of the Hummingbird, by Athol Fugard

The Shadow of the Hummingbird, by Athol Fugard.

The Fugard Theatre Studio: 10 – 26 July 2014

The Barney Simon Theatre, The Market Theatre: 30 July – 17 August 2014

PACOFS, Bloemfontein: 20 – 31 August 2014.


Athol Fugard returns to the stage!

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 www.thefugard.com 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.

About Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard was born in 1932 in Middelburg, in the Karoo desert region of South Africa. He has written close to fourty plays, four books and several screenplays. His plays include Blood Knot, Boesman and Lena,“Master Harold” . . . and the boys, The Road to Mecca, My Children! My Africa!, The Captain’s Tiger, The Train Driver and The Blue Iris. Many of his works were turned into films: Tsotsi, based on his 1980 novel, won the 2005 Academy Award, for best foreign language film. His work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa (imposed in 1948), through the first democratic elections (April 27, 1994), when Nelson Mandela became president, and into present-day post apartheid South Africa. The Shadow of the Hummingbird, receiving its South African premiere during the Fugard Theatre’s current season, is dedicated to his grandson, Gavyn Fugard Scranton. Fugard’s appearance in this play marks his return to the stage as an actor after an absence of fifteen years. One of the most performed playwrights in the world, and South Africa’s best-known playwright, at eighty-one, Fugard continues to direct and write plays. Although he still travels regularly, as of 2013, he regards his house in the Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda, South Africa, as his permanent home.

About Paula Fourie

Born in 1985 South Africa to a family in the diplomatic service, Paula Fourie spent the majority of her childhood living in the USA and Europe, returning to South Africa without having witnessed firsthand the turbulent final years of apartheid. Having begun writing in her teenage years (also winning a national writing competition with a short story in 2002) she has continued her creative writing alongside her work as a musicologist and choral conductor. In 2013, she obtained her PhD from Stellenbosch University with a biography of South African musician and musical theatre composer Taliep Petersen as her dissertation. Her published academic work includes book reviews, interviews and journal articles, and she is currently reworking her manuscript on Petersen for publication. Writing in both English and Afrikaans, her poetry has appeared in several South African poetry journals. Fourie has been working with Athol Fugard since 2012. This is her first published excursion into the world of playwriting.

About Mannie Manim

Mannie Manim, co-founder of The Market Theatre, has been involved in Theatre for 56 years and lighting and producing in South Africa and internationally for over 40 years. He has been The Head of Drama for The Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal 1967 to1973,  Co-founder and Managing Director of The Market Theatre and The Company 1973 – 1991. Director of Performing Arts Administration at Wits University 1991 to 2000, Managing Director of Mannie Manim Productions 1991 to present,  Director and CEO of The Baxter Theatre 2000 till 2009, Executive Director of The Fugard Theatre 2010. Highlights include lighting WAITING FOR GODOT,  BROKEN GLASS and THE BIRD WATCHERS at The Fugard.  THE TEMPEST at The Baxter and  Stratford upon Avon.   NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH in SA, Australia, UK and USA.  CARMEN and THE MYSTERIES at Spier, London, New York, Perth, Toronto. THE MAGIC FLUTE in SA, London and Paris. A LESSON FROM ALOES, MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS, MY CHILDREN MY AFRICA at The Market and The National Theatre, London,   THE TRAIN DRIVER at The Fugard and The Hampstead. THE ISLAND and SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD in SA, UK, Europe, Canada and USA. The revival of DISTRICT SIX The musical at The Baxter.  OTHELLO at The Market and HAMLET at The Baxter and The Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon.  SARAFINA and ASINAMALI in SA and USA.  WOZA ALBERT in SA, UK, Australia and USA. REACH in SA and Europe. SHOWBOAT at Artscape, Germany, Sweden, Norway and at The Chatelet Theatre, Paris. Porgy and Bess at Artscape, Sweden, Berlin Opera House and Oslo. NOAH OF CAPE TOWN at The Baxter. Recent highlights include STUUR GROETE VIR MANNETJIES ROUX on it’s sold out national tour and Handspring Puppet Company’s OUROBOROS at the Baxter and  Out The Box Festival and on a 7 city tour of France, Belgium and India , RACE for the KZN/Natal Playhouse Company, at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown and The State Theatre and SOLOMON AND MARION at The Baxter Theatre, Edinburgh Festival and Kennedy Centre. MISSING at The Baxter. THE BROTHERS SIZE at The Baxter and The Market. He has lit every first production of a Fugard play in SA since 1976. His accolades include The Shirley Moss Award for the Greatest Practical and Technical Contribution to SA Theatre (1980). The SA Institute of Technology Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Technician, Administrator and Lighting Designer (1981). The 1st Vita Award for the most Enterprising Producer (1985) as well as 10 Vita awards for best original Lighting Design. He was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government (1990). Received a Gold medal from The Simon van der Stel Foundation (1995), a Gold Medal for Theatre Development from The SA Academy of Arts and Science (1996). Naledi Life Achievement Award (2004) . Fleur du Cap Lifetime Achievement Award, Arts and  Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award and The National Order of Ikhamanga,Silver (2011).Fleur du Cap Award for best lighting design (2012).

About Saul Radomsky

Qualified as a Fine Art teacher in South Africa before going to the U.K. to study Theatre Design. He has designed numerous productions in the U.K., the West End, Broadway, Israel, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Holland, Germany and South America. In South Africa he designed KAT & THE KINGS, (FNB Vita award Best Set Design) DISTRICT SIX THE MUSICAL, POISON, SONGBOOK (Kramer / Petersen) (Fleur du Cap nomination Best Set Design), EXITS & ENTRANCES, COMING HOME (Athol Fugard),  the world premiere of THE TRAIN DRIVER, written and directed by Athol Fugard at the Fugard Theatre, and it’s highly successful transfer to The Hampstead Theatre, London. THE BIRDWATCHERS written and directed by Athol Fugard (Fleur du Cap Award, Best Set Design), SOME LIKE IT VROT Written and Directed by David Kramer (Fleur du Cap nomination, Best Set Design), the recent highly acclaimed revival of KAT & THE KINGS at the Fugard Theatre and Montecasino Theatre in Johannesburg. DIE LAASTE KARRETJIEGRAF written and directed by Athol Fugard (Fleur du Cap nomination, Best Set Design). He returned to South Africa after an absence of 38 years and now lives permanently in Cape Town.

About James Webb

James Webb’s work has been exhibited, broadcast and performed throughout South Africa and other parts of the world. Known for his conceptual approach to composition and sound design, Webb has developed a rich and unique body of work influenced by his practice as a contemporary artist and experimental musician. Notable soundtracks include Athol Fugard’s Die Laaste Kaaretjiegraf (2013) and The Bird Watchers (2011) for which he won a Fleur du Cap award for both, Brett Bailey’s Orfeus (2006), Nicola Hanekom’s Babel (2012), as well as Romeo & Julia (2005) Mamma Medea (2003) and Aars! (2001) Directed by Marthinus Basson.

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