* 2007
Island * Fugard @ Amazon Virtual Theatre *

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2006 Godot: what the two do, when they are not in prison? Today...


intro: Athol Fugard's The Island, set on South Africa's notorius Robben Island prison which held Nelson Mandela for 17 years until 1990, is considered one of the most significant plays of the thwentieth century.

It tells the story of two prisoners labouring in a quarry by day and rehearsing for the prison concert scenes from Sophocles' Antigone in their cells at night.

Athol Fugard (b.1932) was born in a remote voillage in South Africa. He grew up in Port Elizabeth, the setting for most of his plays. After some acting experience he started writing plays, almost always set in South Africa and steeped in the politics of the day (apartheid and now post-apartheid). Fugard's attacks on apartheid brought him into conflict with the South African government.


2005: Total Acting & Total Directing *
Re-staging 'The Island' after 30 years, the end of apartheid and two Tonys: "The Island" is a collaborative creation of Fugard, a white, South African playwright, and two black, South African actors, John Kani and Winston Ntshona. Although Fugard had written many political plays prior to "The Island," this was the first such collaboration in his nation's history...


WINSTON: That’s not what I’m talking about. When you go to the quarry tomorrow, take a good look at old Harry. Look into his eyes, John. Look at his hands. They’ve changed him. They’ve turned him to stone. Watch him work with that chisel and hammer. Twenty perfect blocks of stone. Nobody else can do it like him. He loves stone. That’s why they’re nice to him. He’s forgotten himself. He’s forgotten everything…why he’s here, where he comes from. That’s happening to me John. I’ve forgotten why I’m here… [Scene 3]

Monologue Study: 1 101 * 2 comedy * 3 drama *

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Fugard (bio)
[In the following scene, part of Scene 4, Winston and John perform Antigone for the other cellmates, Winston plays Antigone, John plays King Creon]

WINSTON: Who made the law forbidding the burial of my brother?

JOHN: The State…

WINSTON: When Polynices died in battle, all that remained was the empty husk of his body. He could neither harm nor help any man again. What lay on the battlefield waiting for Hodoshe to turn rotten, belonged to God. You are only a man, Creon. Even as there are laws made by men, so too are there others that come from God…

JOHN: Your words reveal only that obstinacy of spirit which has brought nothing but tragedy to your people. First you break the law. Now you insult the State.

WINSTON: Just because I ask you to remember that you are only a man?

JOHN: And to add insult to injury you gloat over your deeds!

JOHN: [again addressing the audience]. You have heard all the relevant facts. Needless now to call the state witnesses who would testify beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty…There was a law. The law was broken. The law stipulated its penalty. My hands are tied. Take her from where she stands, straight to the Island! There wall her up in a cell for life, with enough food to acquit ourselves of the taint of her blood.

WINSTON: [to the audience]. Brothers and Sisters of the Land! I go now on my last journey. I must leave the light of day forever, for the Island, strange and cold, to be lost between life and death. So, to my grave, my everlasting prison, condemned alive to solitary death.

[Tearing off his wig and confronting the audience as Winston, not Antigone.] Gods of our Fathers! My Land! My Home!Time waits no longer. I go now to my living death, because I honoured those things to which honour belongs.

[The two men take off their costumes and then strike their ‘set’. They then come together and, as in the beginning, their hands come together to suggest handcuffs, and their right and left legs to suggest ankle-chains. They start running… John mumbling a prayer and Winston a rhythm for their three-legged run. The siren wails. Fade to blackout.]



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