Athol Fugard : his dramatic work with special reference to his later plays

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In the introduction, the writer highlights Fugard's regional artistry, his authentic reflection and recreation of a nation's tormented soul. The first chapter deals with Fugard's early plays, revealing the embryonic playwright and those characteristics of imagery, construction, language and content to be developed and refined in later plays. Briefly examined within this context are No-Good Friday, Nongogo and Tsotsi, the playwright's only novel. A chapter on the Port Elizabeth plays written in Fugard's apprenticeship years, The Blood Knot, Hello and Goodbye and Boesman and Lena, focuses on his growing skill as a dramatist, his involvement in his milieu both geographically and emotionally, as well as providing detailed analysis of the plays in terms of major features such as national politics, universal values, existentialism and Calvinism. The period of collaboration in which Fugard responded to the suggestions, imaginative projections and creative stimulus of his actors, forms the content of a chapter devoted to detailed study of the improvised plays: The Coat, Orestes, Sizwe Bansi is Dead, and The Island. The later Port Elizabeth plays, A Lesson from Aloes and "Master Harold ' ... and the boys, are explored from political and personal perspectives respectively, with attention paid to the intensely human dramas that dominate even the overtly ideological considerations. A chapter on the television and film scripts - The Occupation, Mille Miglia, The Guest, Marigolds in August - traces Fugard's involvement in these media, his economy of verbal descriptions and his taut control of his material generally. A chapter is devoted to Fugard' s women, the characters who present affirmative points of view, whose courage, compassion and determination infuse a hostile world with a range of possibilities beyond survival and existence. Milly in People are Living There, Frieda in Statements After An Arrest Under The Immorality Act and Miss Helen in The Road to Mecca form a Fugardian sorority of survivors. The final chapter of the thesis is devoted to Dimetos, regarded as an intensely personal artistic statement, an examination of the dramatist's alterego, the playwright's persona.

Bibliography: pages 366-380.