Fest bows Fugard work

New prod'n 'Booitjie' as well as aud fave 'Sizwe Banzi' to play

JOHANNESBURG — A new play by renowned South African playwright Athol Fugard will have its world preem at the 33rd South African National Festival of the Arts, to be held June 29-July 8.

The country’s leading arts festival, held annually in the historical university burg of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape province, incorporates theater, dance, music, film, art exhibitions, craft markets and street theater in its main and fringe sections. Many leading artists use the event to unveil new works.

Fugard’s new play, “Booitjie and the Oubaas” (Boy and the Old Man) is a production of the Baxter Theater in Cape Town, directed by Janice Honeyman. The cast includes Marius Weyers (who previously played in Fugard’s “Sorrows and Rejoicings”), Christo Davids and Mary Daniels.

Fugard’s eagerly awaited new play follows what has become a recurring theme in many post-apartheid South African films and plays — reconciliation and compassion. The play explores what happens when one human being stretches out a hand of kindness to another across different generations and from different worlds. Anger, guilt and regrets from the past are laid to rest as “ultimately we meet our true selves and each other, finding peace when we tell our stories and listen to them.”

Theater lovers can look forward to another Fugard work during the festival — one of his classic audience favorites, “Sizwe Banzi Is Dead,” featuring the original 1975 Tony-winning cast of John Kani and Winston Ntshona, who originally workshopped the play with Fugard. Also from the Baxter Theater, it’s being directed by Aubrey Sekhabi.

Fugard has been feted in his home country this year as the author of the novel “Tsotsi,” on which the Oscar-winning film directed by Gavin Hood was based. It’s his only novel, and Fugard has said the pic is the best film adaptation of his work yet.

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