Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Athol Fugard’s first two full-length plays, No-Good Friday (pr. 1958, pb. 1977) and Nongogo (pr. 1959, pb. 1977), grew out of his experiences with Sophiatown, a multiracial area of Johannesburg that had just been rezoned as a white area when Fugard went to work as a clerk in the Native Commissioner’s Court, where passbook law offenders were tried. He made his first black friends while there and gained at first hand an understanding of how the bureaucratic maze of apartheid in his country functioned. These early plays are largely naturalistic, and while well received at the time, Fugard now openly considers them to be rather naïve apprenticeship pieces. They did, however, begin Fugard’s continuing exploration of the theme of human survival under extreme conditions.

The Blood Knot (pr. 1961, pb. 1963) is about the relationship between two brothers, one of whom can pass as white. This play established Fugard as an author of considerable promise. It is the first of many plays to be set in Port Elizabeth, a bleak home to the kind of people about whom Fugard writes. Hello and Goodbye (pr. 1965, pb. 1966), People Are Living There (pr. 1968, pb. 1969), and Boesman and Lena (pr., pb. 1969) all allow audiences to identify effectively with various other characters on the fringes of society.

Orestes: An Experiment in Theatre as Described in a Letter to an American Friend (pr. 1971, pb....

(The entire section is 437 words.)