Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Athol Fugard's Exits and Entrances: The Playwright, the Actor and the Poet

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Athol Fugard's Exits and Entrances: The Playwright, the Actor and the Poet

Article excerpt

Summary

The theme of "exits and entrances" can be traced on various levels, e.g. on the personal level of death (Fugard's father, the deaths of Marais and Huguenet) and birth (Fugard's daughter); on the professional level (the end of Huguenet's career versus the start of Fugard's career), as well as political (one political dispensation taking the place of another). Against this thematic background three characters emerge: the Playwright (Young Fugard), the Actor (Andre Huguenet) and the Poet (Eugene Marais). This paper explores the interconnections and interactions between these three people and focuses on the aspect which binds them together, namely the issue of Afrikaner identity. Although all three of them stand outside of a narrow definition of this identity, they can all be defined in terms of their links with the Afrikaner, their position within the Afrikaner community and their stand towards Afrikaans.

Opsomming

Die tema van "exits and entrances" speel in op verskillende vlakke in die drama, byvoorbeeld op die persoonlike vlak van dood (Fugard se vader, die afsterwe van Marais en Huguenet) en geboorte (Fugard se dogter); op die professionele vlak (die einde van Huguenet se Ioopbaan versus die aanvang van Fugard se Ioopbaan), sowel as op die politieke vlak (een politieke dispensasie neem die plek van 'n volgende een oor). Drie karakters kom na vore teen die agtergrond van hierdie temas: die Dramaturg ("Young Fugard"), die Akteur (Andre Huguenet) en die digter (Eugene Marais). Hierdie artikel ondersoek die interkonneksies en interaksies tussen hierdie drie persone en fokus op die aspek wat hulle saambind, naamlik die saak van Afrikaner-identiteit. Alhoewel al drie buite 'n eng definisie van hierdie identiteit staan, kan hulle almal gedefinieer word in terme van hulle verbintenisse met die Afrikaner, hulle posisie binne die Afrikanergemeenskap en hulle houding t.o.v. Afrikaans.

Introduction

Exits and Entrances by Athol Fugard is largely an autobiographical play which focuses mainly on the relationship between the playwright (a young Fugard) and a well-known Afrikaans actor (Andre Huguenet). As mentioned by Marianne McDonald in her short discussion of the play (which includes a short interview with Athol Fugard),

   Exits and Entrances is one of a series of autobiographical plays
   that trace Fugard's development as a writer, following "Master
   Harold" ... and the Boys (1982) and The Captain's Tiger (1997). The
   author-figure is also present in Valley Song (1995), bur this
   character could just as well have been a businessman for all we
   learn about his craft. Now, Exits and Entrances, along with the
   play he is currently working on, The Bird Watcher, adds a new
   instalment.

   (McDonald in Fugard 2006: 59)

In this play two meetings between Fugard and Huguenet are highlighted and dated, namely a meeting between the two men in 1956, when the Playwright was 24 and the Actor was 51 years old, as well as a later meeting between them in 1961. The theme of "exits and entrances" can clearly be traced on various levels, e.g. personal (the death of Fugard's father and the birth of his daughter), professional (the end of Huguenet's career as an actor versus the commencing of Fugard's career as a playwright), political (the end of one political era and the birth of a new political dispensation when South Africa withdrew from the British Commonwealth and declared itself an independent republic in 1961).

Three figures emerge from the background of this theme of exits and entrances: the young Playwright (Athol Fugard), the Actor (Andre Huguenet) with whom he converses on various issues, as well as an "absent character", namely the poet (Eugene Matais), as recalled by the actor. This paper will explore the interconnections and interactions between these three people, as well as how Fugard addresses and represents the issue of Afrikaner identity in the play. …

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