Indiana Daily Student

Playwright visits campus

Internationally renowned Fugard comes to IU

Athol Fugard, an internationally renowned playwright, will visit IU from Sept. 10-23. The author, whose works first spoke out against apartheid in South Africa in a dramatic, very public arena, will make two public appearances, as well as hold a workshop for students of acting and directing. He will also teach four sessions of an honors course on his plays.\nFugard is visiting this campus especially because he is the class of 1963 Wells Scholars Professor. His visit comes at the same time as the Lilly Library's purchase of many of the playwright's original papers, manuscripts and comments on many of his plays. In addition, English Professor Albert Wertheim, who is most responsible for Fugard's visit, will release a book on Fugard and his plays in the next week.\nNow, students, faculty and the Bloomington community will have the opportunity to meet a man whose art has been praised as some of the best of the century.\n"Fugard is emblematic of the kind of writer that was hated and feared by dictators and oppressive dictators around the world," said Dennis Reardon, theatre and drama professor. \nReardon, himself a playwright, said he considers Fugard to be one of the most important playwrights of this generation. \n"He's why artists are suppressed, why they're hounded, persecuted in countries where injustice is rampant," Reardon said. "There's probably been no playwright in the 20th century who has been more emblematic of the function of art as social engineering than Fugard. He had the bravery, the courage, the decency to speak out against the Afrikaner-imposed apartheid." \nApartheid, now an issue that has been mostly alleviated, concerns some of the same racial segregation issues that existed in U.S. history. South Africa has a large native population mixed with a population of white Europeans who occupied the area during British Imperialism.\nThe result was hatred and prejudice between the races which led to great injustices and years of inhumanity between the white and black populations. The apartheid government restricted the rights of the dominant black population and also lead to discrimination between the people.\nFugard was one of the first and few playwrights to not only write about these horrors and injustices, but also to employ black actors at his theater.\n"For me, he is really important because during the dark days of apartheid, he was one of the lone voices that got an international audience," said Murray McGibbon, associate professor of theatre and drama. \nMcGibbon, a South African, teaches acting and directing at IU and has directed Fugard's play "Master Harold … and the Boys" in his home country.\n"Fugard himself had a lot of trouble getting his worked produced. And if it hadn't been for the Market Theater in South Africa, I don't think it would have been produced because it was flagrantly disrespectful towards the government of the time," McGibbon said.\nBut beyond reading or performing his plays, the IU community can now meet the artist. The University Theatre will play host to two public events ' the first a public reading of some selections of Fugard's work and a public conversation between Fugard and Wertheim.\n"His plays touch almost magically the important issues, not just of South Africa, and not just of our time, but of race, human psychology and human interaction and the very meaning and power of art," said Wertheim of Fugard. "What we usually have, with any writer, is the artifact ' the play that we see, the play that we read, the poem or the novel. This is a chance to meet the author and to find out why he writes what he does, how he writes what he does, where he is now and where he is going ' to see and to hear the man behind the art."\n Students of acting and directing will also get a special opportunity to meet Fugard through a closed master's class taught by him. His contribution to theater, which includes such plays as "The Island," "Bloodknot," "Boseman and Lena," are examples of how art can be a vehicle for social and political commentary. Fugard\'s works are on many high school and college required reading lists not only for the respected artistic qualities, but also for the message that his art teaches.\n "The legacy of apartheid is going to continue through many generations ' my children are going to suffer from it," McGibbon said. "And it's not just black people who were affected of prejudiced by apartheid. As a so-called privileged white person, I was also impoverished by apartheid because what it was very successful at doing was keeping people apart. \n "Blacks and whites didn't get to know each other, we grew up in separate communities, separate societies, so really it was a divided nation. And, theatre can help to unite; it can help to heal. So, for an IU student, I think his plays have great relevance because apart from the Holocaust, apartheid was the greatest evil that has been committed human to human"

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