Eric Abraham presents this Fugard Theatre production in honour of this iconic playwright’s 85th year. The play will open at the Fugard Theatre on 27 March 2018, on World Theatre Day, and run for a limited season.
Sandra Prinsloo is Miss Helen (Moedertaal, Die Naaimasjien, So Ry Miss Daisy, Oskar en die Pienk Tannie, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Miss Julie), Marius Weyers is Rev. Marius Byleveld (The Fugard’s The Father, Oom Wanja / Uncle Vanya, Hamlet, Twee Grade van Moord, The Gods Must Be Crazy) and Emily Child is Elsa Barlow (The Fugard’s The Eulogists, The Pervert Laura, The Father).
Direction will be by the Fugard Theatre’s Resident Director Greg Karvellas (The Fugard’s Shakespeare in Love,The Eulogists, Clybourne Park, The Father, Bad Jews). The production will be designed by Saul Radomsky (The Fugard’s Bad Jews, Clybourne Park, District Six – Kanala, The Painted Rocks At Revolver Creek) with lighting by Mannie Manim (The Fugard’s The Mother, The Painted Rocks At Revolver Creek, The Blue Iris) and costumes by Birrie Le Roux (The Fugard’s West Side Story, District Six – Kanala, The Father, The Mother, Clybourne Park, King Kong). Sound design will be by the Fugard’s resident Musical Director Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (The Fugard’s King Kong, West Side Story, The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret, Funny Girl).
Inspired by Helen Martins, who lived in Nieu-Bethesda and created the now-famous The Owl House – which is designated a provincial heritage site –The Road to Mecca is the story of a woman's desire for personal and artistic freedom within the narrow confines of a conservative and highly religious community in the Karoo in early seventies apartheid South Africa.
Athol Fugard wrote this play in 1984, creating the lead role of Miss Helen for the late South African theatre star Yvonne Bryceland.
Legendary theatre critic Frank Rich writing in The New York Times about The Road to Mecca, commented “Road to Mecca examines the core of artistry... Artists are driven to forge their version of the truth even when they have no hope of an audience, even when they must work with the most humble of materials in the middle of nowhere. Artists are dangerous because they won't deviate from that truth, no matter what pressure to conform is applied by the society around them, reminding us that the artistic conscience is inseparable from the moral conscience.”
Weyers and Prinsloo were last seen on the Fugard Theatre stage together in Wie’s bang vir Virginia Woolf?.
“We could think of no better way to mark Athol's 85th birthday year in South Africa than with the Fugard Theatre's first production of The Road to Mecca with an extraordinary South African cast –theatre icons Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers and the brilliant young Emily Child" says Eric Abraham - Founding Producer of the Fugard Theatre.
“Athol Fugard has committed his career and life to restoring our sense of a common humanity. To masterfully pricking our consciences to the injustices of apartheid, inequality and the inadequacies of the new dispensation. His deeply rooted South African narratives resonate universally. A unique figure who was the first to create roles for all South Africans - especially for black actors. His narratives and indelible black characters profoundly changed the way millions of people world over viewed apartheid. Our theatre is proud to bear his name and strive to continue his legacy as a crucible of creativity and common humanity for all South Africans.”
Time Magazine regards Fugard as "the greatest active playwright in the English-speaking world".
Athol Fugard was born in 1932 in Middelburg in the Karoo. An internationally acclaimed playwright director and occasional actor, for over half a century he has written almost forty soul-searing plays with roles for all South Africans which have moved audiences in South Africa and around the world to laughter and tears as they reflected the inhumanity of apartheid. His plays champion truth and a fundamental universal humanity. In 2011 he received the ultimate recognition from the world’s most prestigious theatre community – a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. He is also the author of four books and several screenplays. His plays include Blood Knot, Boesman and Lena, Master Harold and the Boys, The Train Driver, The Blue Iris and The Shadow of the Hummingbird. Many of his works have been turned into films with director Gavin Hood's Tsotsi, based on his 1980 short story of the same name won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film - South Africa's first Academy award in this category. Athol’s work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa, through the first democratic elections, to Nelson Mandela’s presidency and into present-day, post-apartheid South Africa.
The recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and awards, Athol was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale global arts prize for Theatre/Film by the Japan Art Association in 2014. One of the most performed playwrights in the world, he continues to direct and write plays. He shares his life with his wife the writer and academic Paula Fourie and their dog Jakkals.