Last night's opening of Athol Fugard's Coming Home was a thrilling experience. Audience members who battled the ongoing El Niño deluge were rewarded with deeply emotional performances by the cast and superb direction by Gordon Edelstein.
This morning's San Francisco Chronicle brought us several post-opening treats, the first of which is Robert Hurwitt's wonderful interview with Fugard, who talks about living in San Diego (surf's up!), his age and health (77 and so-so), and his recent creative spurt.
Here's Fugard talking about Veronica, the young woman we met in Valley Song whose story continues in Coming Home:
"Same woman who left the village at the end and went to Cape Town to be part of the glorious new South Africa, when so many politicians made so many promises. What's happened over the years, not just to this woman but to the nation, I think, has created a degree of disillusion and cynicism unequaled in our history. We had a president, Thabo Mbeki, for whom I had no admiration, who totally ignored the relationship between AIDS and antiretroviral drugs, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of children and adults have died who should be alive.
"Desmond Tutu, that magnificent man, has said that AIDS and its mismanagement by that government in South Africa killed more people than apartheid. That is central to the play."
For more on Fugard and South Africa, you might be interested to read a recent feature on the playwright and his considerable body of work from the Chicago Sun-Times focusing on three Fugard plays — "Master Harold”...and the Boys, The Island, and Sizwe Banzi Is Dead — being produced in the Chicago area over the next six months. Read the story.
And the Boston Globe delves into the artistic and cultural world of South Africa (movies, theatre, literature), with a mention of Fugard and Coming Home. Read the story.
Also in today's Chronicle is a tasty little morsel about Aurélia Thierrée and Aurélia's Oratorio, which has been extended in the Roda Theatre through January 31.
Talking about collaborating with her mother, the director Victoria Thierée Chaplin, Aurélia says: "The greatest advantage was trust. I trusted her completely," she told the Chronicle. "She said: You'll start in a chest of drawers, and then, there will be a train going through you. And I thought: 'Wonderful!' "
Top photo: Lou Ferguson and Jaden Malik Wiggins in Coming Home. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com.
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