Essay on "The Island" by Athol Fugard

2068 Words May 3rd, 2008 9 Pages
The Island (1973) Athol Fugard

A Quick Rundown of The Island

- The Island is a Fugard play that resorts to the Classics to protest Apartheid.
- It takes place in four scenes, opening with a lengthy mimed sequence in which John and Winston, two cell mates in prison on Robben Island, carry out one of the totally pointless and exhausting tasks designed by warders to break the spirit of political prisoners.
- Winston has been sentenced to prison for life because he burned his passbook in front of a police station.
- John has been imprisoned for belonging to a banned organization.
- The story traces the relationship of these two men. Winston is the active rebel,
- and John, the intellectual, is trying to persuade him to play
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Finally, at the end of the play, Winston remembers that he can control how e perceives his situation. He says as much: “I am here because I was defiant.” He sees that he is important and that what he is doing is important.
- He enrolled at the University of Cape Town but did not finish his studies, dropping out to travel in Africa and the world. He found work on a ship, and travelled around the world for two years before returning home where he found a job as a court clerk and through this was able to witness the destruction on humans by the apartheid system
- His first work in theatres was a piece called the The Rehearsal Room. He wrote, acted, and directed this play which with its multiracial cast openly rejected segregation in South African theatres. This led to most of his works being banned by the government

4. Fugard’s Central Philosophy of Theatre
- Fugard makes conscious decision to work with black actors (including Zakes Mda!), crossing over the cultures in a very stringent and difficult time for South Africa, wanted to create a new language for theatre, new elements to have an international impact
- Theatre is minimalist, simplest costumes, minimal amount of actors
- Becomes cornerstone of protest theater
- Bear witness to the experiences of those who are marginalized
- Give a voice to the voiceless
- To shatter “white complacency”
- Challenging existing theatre conventions, a break away from the “grand” play
- Create a synthesis of white and

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