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Athol Fugard Festival to be Relaunched in 2013

Alert! Darryl David, co-founder of Booktown Richmond, has announced the relaunch of the Athol Fugard Festival in the first quarter of next year. The festival for the famous playwright was held in Nieu-Bethesda in 2009, but did not continue annually due to a lack of funds.

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Now David, who is also the organiser of BoekBedonnerd, and festivals honouring JM Coetzee, Olive Schreiner and Breyten Breytenbach, is planning a new Athol Fugard Festival that will kick off in Booktown Richmond and then consist of a literary pilgrimage to Nieu-Bethesda, the place where Fugard wrote many of his world-renowned plays.

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Press release

Booktown Richmond is proud to announce that they will be re-launching the Athol Fugard Festival. As lovers of the Karoo might know, the Fugard Festival was started in Nieu-Bethesda in 2009 and it was a highly successful festival. But when ABSA withdrew their sponsorship, Nieu-Bethesda could not find another sponsor and the Fugard Festival did not take place this year.

‘It is a great pity’, says Darryl David, founder of Booktown Richmond, that in the year that Athol Fugard, (who people describe as the greatest living dramatist in the English speaking world) celebrated his 80th birthday, Nieu-Bethesda could not honour one of her most famous residents. In fact, our press hardly gave him a mention on this momentous occasion. ‘And that is what prompted me’, says David, ‘to revive the Fugard Festival’

‘Residents of Nieu-Bethesda need not fear, says David, ‘that Richmond is trying to colonize all the major festivals for ourselves. I realise we host BoekBedonnerd and the J.M. Coetzee Festival in Booktown Richmond. But I did start the Schreiner Festival in Cradock, and the Breyten Breytenbach Festival in Montagu. More than anyone, I think people will acknowledge that I am acutely aware of writers’ bonds with certain places. And I know that you literally cannot have a Fugard Festival without Nieu-Bethesda. It would be akin to starting a Owl House Festival in Hanover!’

With this in mind David plans to host day 1 of the Fugard Festival in Booktown Richmond. But on the second morning, we will take to the back roads on a literary pilgrimage to a landscape Fugard has hymned into South African literature – Nieu-Bethesda!

The festival is being planned for the first quarter of 2013. Dates will be confirmed in the next month. ‘But we would like to invite all past supporters of the Fugard Festival to please contact Darryl David on 0813918689 / or Peter Baker on 0829411572 /

‘We owe it to Athol Fugard, one of the great voices in South African literature, not to let the Fugard Festival die under our watch’, says David.


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