Boesman and Lena is a central play in Athol Fugard’s canon, for it presents his concerns for the nonwhite South African population. Indeed, most of Fugard’s plays have black characters. For example, the central relationship in “MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the Boys (pr., pb. 1982) is between Harold and his black servant, Sam. Some of Fugard’s early plays, such as The Island (pr. 1973) and The Blood Knot (pr. 1961), focus exclusively on nonwhite characters. His plays are consistent in their commitment to portraying and protesting the conditions that nonwhites faced in South Africa.
Boesman and Lena is representative of Fugard’s body of work because it demonstrates the influences of Camus, Samuel Beckett, and Bertolt Brecht. Beckett’s influence on the play is apparent in the basic plot—two central characters, alone in a desolate landscape, who are forced to deal with their baffling condition, a story line similar to that of Beckett’s En attendant Godot (pb. 1952; Waiting for Godot, 1954). The desolation of Boesman and Lena’s situation, their conflict, and the arrival of a third person who cannot understand them are also reminiscent of Waiting for Godot. The Brechtian influence might seem more subtle, for Brecht wrote large-cast plays on sweeping themes. Both Brecht and Fugard, however, have written indictments of society. Boesman and Lena is a social protest...
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