Boesman and Lena by Athol FugardHarold Athol Lannigan Fugard (b. June 11, 1932, Middelburg, South Africa), better known as Athol Fugard, is a South African playwright, actor, and director. His wife, Sheila Fugard, and their daughter, Lisa Fugard, are also writers.
Athol Fugard was born of an Irish Roman Catholic father and an Afrikaner mother. He considers himself an Afrikaner, but writes in English to reach a larger audience. His family moved to Port Elizabeth soon after he was born. In 1938, he was enrolled at the Marist Brothers College — a Catholic primary school (although he is not known to be a Roman Catholic). After being awarded a scholarship, he enrolled at the local technical college for his secondary education. He then enrolled in the University of Cape Town but dropped out. He sailed around the world working on ships (mainly in the Far East).
Fugard married Sheila Meiring, now known as Sheila Fugard, then an actress in one of his plays, in September 1956. She later became a novelist and poet in her own right. They started the Serpent Players in Port Elizabeth before moving to Johannesburg where he was employed as a court clerk.
Working in the court environment and seeing how the Africans suffered under the pass laws provided Fugard with a firsthand insight into the injustice and pain of apartheid.
Working with a group of black actors (including Zakes Mokae), Fugard wrote his first play No Good Friday. Returning to Port Elizabeth in the early 1960s, he worked with a group of actors whose first performance was in the former snake pit of the zoo, hence the name The Serpent Players.
The political slant of his plays bought him into conflict with the government. In order to avoid prosecution, he started to take his plays overseas. After Blood Knot, was produced in England, his passport was withdrawn for four years. In 1962, he publicly supported an international boycott against segregated theatre audiences which led to further restrictions.
He worked extensively with two black actors John Kani and Winston Ntshona and workshopped three plays viz. Sizwe Banzi is Dead, The Island and Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act.
The early plays workshopped with Kani and Ntshona were staged in black areas for a night and then the cast moved to the next venue – probably a dimly lit church hall or community centre. The audience was normally poor migrant labourers and the residents of hostels in the townships. The plays at this time were political and mirrored the frustrations in the lives of the audience. Fugards plays drew the audience into the drama, they would applaud, cry and interject their own opinions. Fugard used feedback from the audience to improve the plays – expanding the parts that worked and deleting the ones that did not.
For example in Sizwe Banzi is Dead, migrant worker Bansi can only survive by assuming someone elses identity and getting the important apartheid pass in order to get a job. When he debates how Sizwe would effectively “die” and whether the sacrifice would be worth it, the audience would cry out “Go on, Do it,” because they appreciated that without a pass you were effectively a non-entity.
Sets and props were improvised from whatever was available which helps to explain the minimalist sets that productions of these plays utilise. In 1971, the restrictions against Fugard were eased, allowing him to travel to England in order to direct Boesman and Lena. Master Harold...and the Boys, written in 1982 is a semi-autobiographical work.
Fugard showed he was against injustice on both sides of the fence with his play My Children! My Africa! where he attacked the ANC for deciding to boycott African schools as he realised the damage it would cause a generation of African pupils. With the demise of apartheid, Fugards first two postapartheid plays Valley Song and The Captains Tiger focused on personal rather than political issues.
His plays are regularly produced and have won many awa
Boesman & Lena Summary & Study Guide
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the old dog barks backwards
Boesman & Lena
He is heavily burdened, carrying all his possessions as well as a piece of iron with which to make a shelter. Tired, he drops his load. A few moments later, his woman Lena, who is also colored, enters. She carries all her possessions in a bundle on top of her head and a load of firewood in her arms. She walks past Boesman, realizes her mistake, and comes back. She asks him if they are going to stop here, and through his silence, she realizes that they are. She drops her baggage and looks around.
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The stage remains empty until Boesman lumbers in, burdened with belongings such as an old mattress and blanket, a blackened paraffin tin, an apple box, a few cooking utensils and a few articles of clothing. He also drags a piece of corrugated iron in one hand. He is barefoot and wears shapeless grey trousers rolled up to his knees, an old shirt, a faded blazer and a cap on his head. He looks around the barren area and drops his bundles, himself falling to the ground. Almost immediately, Lena appears, burdened much the same as Boesman, but without a mattress. She has a load of firewood under her arm, but she carries the rest of her bundle rigidly on her head.