The drama is being presented by Eric Abraham to honour the legendary playwright’s 85th year. To crown it all, it opens on March 27, World Theatre Day.
Acclaimed actress Sandra Prinsloo, last seen in her one-woman show Moedertaal, plays the role of Miss Helen, with the much-awarded Marius Weyers as the Rev Marius Byleveld. Emily Child completes the star-studded trio as Elsa Barlow. The young actress was seen last year in The Eulogists.
Inspired by Helen Martins, who lived in Nieu-Bethesda and created the famous The Owl House - which is today a designated provincial heritage site - The Road to Mecca is the story of one woman’s desire for personal and artistic freedom.
This, within the confines of a conservative and highly religious community in the Karoo in early 1970s apartheid South Africa.
Athol Fugard wrote the play in 1984, creating the lead role of Miss Helen for the late South African theatre star Yvonne Bryceland.
Weyers and Prinsloo were last seen on the Fugard Theatre stage together in Wie’s bang vir Virginia Woolf?
Abraham said: “Athol Fugard has committed his career and life to restoring our sense of a common humanity. To masterfully pricking our consciences to the injustices of apartheid, inequality and the inadequacies of the new dispensation.
“His deeply rooted South African narratives resonate universally. A unique figure who was the first to create roles for all South Africans - especially for black actors.
“His narratives and indelible black characters profoundly changed the way millions of people the world over viewed apartheid.
“Our theatre is proud to bear his name and strives to continue his legacy as a crucible of creativity and common humanity for all South Africans.”
Fugard was born in 1932 in Middelburg in the Karoo. An internationally acclaimed playwright, director and occasional actor, over half a century he has written almost 40 soul-searing plays with roles for all South Africans, which have moved audienceslocally and around the world to laughter and tears as they reflected the inhumanity of apartheid.
In 2011, he received the ultimate recognition from the world’s most prestigious theatre community - a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. He is also the author of four books and several screenplays.
His plays include Blood Knot, Boesman and Lena, Master Harold and the Boys, The Train Driver, The Blue Iris and The Shadow of the Hummingbird. Many of his works have been turned into films - Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi, based on his 1980 short story of the same name, won the 2005 Academy Award for best foreign language film, South Africa’s first Academy Award in this category, and is now being turned into a stage performance.
His work spans the period of apartheid, through the first democratic elections to Nelson Mandela’s presidency and into present-day South Africa.
One of the most performed playwrights in the world, he continues to direct and write plays. He shares his life with his wife, the writer and academic Paula Fourie, and their dog Jakkals.
Direction will be by the Fugard Theatre’s resident director, Greg Karvellas, with production design by Saul Radomsky, lighting by Mannie Manim and costumes by Birrie le Roux.
* The Road to Mecca will run at the Fugard Theatre from March27, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm, with a 4pm matinee on Saturdays. Tickets cost from R130 to R230 each.
Bookings can be made through Computicket or at the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554. There is a 15% discount available for Friends of the Fugard members.