"Master Harold" ...and the boys
by Athol Fugard
Thomas Silcott, Michael Tauzin, Michael A. Shepperd
Set Dressing & Properties Design
Production Stage Manager
Lead Scenic Artist
Light Board Operator
Sound Board Operator
A. Jeffrey Schoenberg
Cricket S. Myers
David Elzer / Demand PR
Robert T. Kyle
Pro Sets West, Inc.
Watson Bradshaw, James King
Nakita Bleeker, Karen Jordon
Cast (in order of Appearance)
The St. Georges Park Tea Room on a wet and windy Port
Elizabeth afternoon in South Africa, 1950.
"We compound our suffering by victimizing each other."
-- Athol Fugard
Notes on “Master Harold” ... and the boys
Considered one of the world’s greatest living playwrights, Athol Fugard is part of a long tradition of artists compelled to create socially conscious art. A native South African, Fugard drew heavily on the government’s policy of Apartheid (from the Dutch and Afrikaans word for “separateness”), which was implemented in 1948, and which institutionalized South Africa’s long history of racial injustice. Despite the end of Apartheid in 1991, his plays continue to be performed extensively throughout the world, as his body of work explores the racial problems that continue to plague humanity, as well as universal issues of brotherhood, community, injustice, and the need to learn from the past. Each of his plays is personal, based on events he witnessed, people in his life, and incidents from his own experience. But of all of his plays, none is more personal than “Master Harold” ... and the boys.
Born Harold Athol Lannigan Fugard in Great Karoo, Cape Province, South Africa in 1932, Fugard grew up in Port Elizabeth, the town that provides the setting for “Master Harold.” His mother, an Afrikaner (a native-born descendant of Dutch immigrants) ran the household and family business. His father, the son of transplants from Manchester, England, was frequently ill and unable to work following an injury that left him handicapped. Like Hally in “Master Harold,” the playwright spent a great deal of time in St. George’s Park Tea Room, a café owned and run by his mother in tandem with a boarding house. The relationship he formed with two longtime black employees of the Tea Room would ultimately fuel the story of the play.
Sam and Willie became his surrogate fathers, men he often turned to for solace from feelings of distress and alienation. Fugard writes that they provided him with an invaluable and positive image of manhood despite the fact that his upbringing instilled in him conflicting attitudes that taught him to view the black community as inferiors. That conflict is at the center of “Master Harold.” The impetus to write this memory play came from a powerful desire to atone for a shameful boyhood incident involving himself and those two men. Fugard writes, “Watching the play is a rather painful journey down memory’s lane for me. I go back in time to that rainy day in Port Elizabeth in 1950 when the three of us -- Sam, Willie, and I -- were there together and all that happened.”
“I need to acknowledge the incredible importance of those two black men in my life -- to celebrate them publicly,” Fugard says. “At the heart of the play is Sam’s extraordinary vision of ‘a world without collisions’ -- that makes the painful journey of the play all worthwhile. I so believe that theatre, in its own mysterious way, must celebrate life. We won’t sit through those dark experiences if we weren’t getting something very affirmative in them. That’s the magic of theatre.”
SPECIAL THANKSDerek Bjorenson, Brad Brown, Chris Garr,
Louis Lotorto, Chuck Olsen, Charlie Nappe