Athol Fugard

Literary Birthday – 11 June – Athol Fugard

Happy Birthday, Athol Fugard, born 11 June 1932.

Seven Quotes

  1. From early on there were two things that filled my life—music and storytelling, both of them provoked by my father. He was a jazz pianist and also a very good storyteller, an avid reader. He passed both those interests on to me.
  2. As fascinated as I was by words on paper, it was matched by my fascination with words in people’s mouths. The spoken word. And that is the world of theatre.
  3. Nobody can take what I love away from me. I would like to believe that love is the only energy I’ve ever used as a writer. I’ve never written out of anger, although anger has informed love. When I return, that love will still be there, even if the South Africa I go back to in five months’ time is radically different from the one I left. I would like to believe that my absence from South Africa won’t affect my relationship to that country, which has been the source of my inspiration, the soul of my writing.
  4. I write by dealing with what I lovingly describe as the inquisition of blank paper—lovingly despite the terror that it’s had for me in the past, and no doubt will continue to have in the future. My most important tool is my notebook.
  5. I never actually start to write a play—by that I mean put “1” up at the top of a blank sheet of paper and open a bracket for my first stage direction—until I have completely structured the play. I have never started to write a play without knowing with total certainty what my final image is.
  6.  I often think of my plays as being written with three characters sitting at the desk: the writer himself; and then behind his left shoulder is the actor, watching as he writes and nudging his arm; and behind the other shoulder is the director who’s eventually going to be responsible for the staging of it. There’s a triple psychology that functions when I write a play.
  7. The human imagination is all about the ability to transcend the limits of our own experience, and to empathise ourselves into other realities. One of the worst things that can happen to writing is political correctness.

Athol Fugard is a South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director. He is well known for his political plays opposing apartheid, and for the 2005 Academy-Award winning film of his novel Tsotsi. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego. He is the recipient of many awards, honours, and honorary degrees, including the 2005 Order of Ikhamanga in Silver from the government of South Africa. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 11th June 2013