Fugard's Life Today


I was born in South Africa, but now I live in California, five minutes from the beach. I usually rise at 4.30am so that I'm ready for work by the time the sun is over the horizon.

At the moment, I'm writing a double bill of short plays. It's a slow, painful process. Two of my plays are about to open in Britain (in Bath and Edinburgh).

I'm not going to see them: I find it excruciating to watch anything I've written.
In the afternoon, I filled an old chest with baubles and buried it under a pile of linen for my four-year-old grandson to discover. When he opened his 'treasure', I knew he would remember the moment after I'm dead.


I spoke on the phone to the actors in my new play, Victory, which is about to open at the Theatre Royal Bath.Victory is a bitter play about how the dream we all had of a really great South Africa became tarnished.

Later I went bird-watching and spotted a black-headed grosbeak. He was very obliging, and posed for my little camera.

In the evening I cooked supper. These days I always cook for my wife, Sheila, in return for all the years that she cooked for me. We've now been married for almost 50 years.


Writing went well today. I smelt the end of one of the plays: I realised that I wanted to end it with an image of a rainbow.

I write every day, though I still feel insecure about what I've written, and sometimes wonder whether I haven't conned everybody.

I was an alcoholic, so I have an addictive personality - and writing is an addictive experience for me. That said, I write less now that I've given up alcohol: you can't brainstorm on a pot of herbal tea the way you can on a carafe of wine.

In the evening, I read a collection of essays by the biographer Claire Tomalin. I'd like to hear Tomalin read Thomas Hardy's poems: they're among the greatest love letters in the English language.


Sheila left for London to watch a preview of Victory.

I spent much of the day following the England versus India Test (I support India). I'm proud of my fanaticism for cricket because Samuel Beckett was equally addicted to it, and it's a good thing for a playwright to be in the same company as one of his masters.

In the evening, I settled down in bed to listen to Bach - I'm working through the Cantatas. I'm trying to understand how he got it so right, every time.


I got up at 2.30am to visit a friend's house with a satellite connection which allowed me to watch the final overs of the Test match, and India's victory. That's how besotted I am!

Then I spoke to my wife in England who was looking forward to going to Bath.

A little later I got a text message from Victory's director telling me that they were about to begin the dress rehearsal. I felt like an anxious father pacing up and down outside the delivery room.

- www.telegraph.co.uk/arts (last updated: 04/08/2007)

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"The moral responsibility of the artist is to keep alive a total awareness of the realities of our time."
Athol Fugard
Athol Fugard
© Sunday Times


Resistance through theatre - Reviews as sources

In this lesson plan, learners will be asked to think about how theatre can speak to people in powerful ways that are not always possible through other media. By reading reviews and assessments of Fugard's plays, learners will appreciate the kind of impact that they had on audiences living under apartheid.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
A selection of images from Athol Fugard’s life and plays.
Artwork Photo Gallery
Get a closer view of the memorial to Athol Fugard in Port Elizabeth’s St George’s Park
Athol Fugard and John Kani
Athol Fugard discusses his relationship with Sam Semela, the inspiration behind the protagonist of ’Master Harold’ … and the boys, with Dali Tambo