By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
What can we learn from the South African experience?
First of all, the situation is different in South Africa. There, the coloreds and blacks were in the majority. It obviously evolved differently from the American experience. But there is still something to be learned. In South Africa we have possibly the highest crime statistics in the world, and this can be attributed to the poverty and neglect of human problems (AIDS), bad education, and the lack of reforms necessary to enable all human beings to enjoy a good chance at life. America should be warned that if they do not make necessary reforms in alleviating poverty, providing jobs and some sort of rehabilitation for convicted criminals, besides continuing the many abuses caused by a double standard, crime rates will grow or at least remain at some of the appalling levels they are now at. America should learn this lesson from South Africa.
What do you prefer: the fanfare of having your plays done in New York and London and L.A. on larger stages, or staging them in the tiny theaters of Cape Town and, now, Hollywood?
I prefer the smaller venue. I speak to individuals, not crowds, and my plays are best received by individuals.
April 16. Rehearsal in the theater.Fugard sits next to Marianne MacDonald (a scholar from UC San Diego who is writing a critical study on Fugard and his works) in the front row. William Dennis Hurley (the Playwright) stands alone on the bare stage, script in hand. Sachs is rehearsing Andr√©’s entrance. Morlan Higgins, a big man with a thundering voice, curses offstage before bursting on, all twitches and severed impulses.
“I’m looking for the moment when I finally see him,” Higgins explains. “Since I bust in the fucking room, when do I actually see him? [Perusing the script.] Oh! Oh, I know where it is. He wrote it, didn’t he? There it is. He wrote it.”
Fugard leaps up onto the stage and offers help transforming the American offstage curses into Afrikaans.
“Try this: ‘Ho, yo fokin bek, yo lacehat.’”
“Which means?” Higgins inquires.
“Shut your fucking snout, you lazy ass.”
“Oh, that’s good. That’s good. Ho yo fokin bek . . .”
“Ho yo fokin bek, yo lacehat,” Fugard snarls.
Higgins repeats, amid howls of laughter from stagehands.
Fugard describes Andr√© as a fat, vain actor whose career is sinking into oblivion.
Higgins jokes, “Do you know what it’s like to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and realize that you’re absolutely right for this part?”
Later, Sachs works a section of the play when Andr√© recalls a memory of seeing Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova performing The Dying Swanin the South African railway hamlet of Bloemfontein in 1916. The memory is typical of Fugard’s deceptive realism. It seems like just another story, and then it blazes with poetry and metaphor. In a world filled with violence, disease and the oppressions of man and nature, a ballerina takes flight in a local town hall, as though with wings, as though carrying the hope of a new way across what Fugard has called the “open veldt, as wide as God’s mercy,” before sinking down and down and down into the stage floor.
Exits and Entrances is being performed at the Fountain Theater, 5060 Fountain Ave., Hollywood, through July 25. Call (323) 663-1525 or visit their Web site.
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