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Three of Athol Fugard’s Plays to be Staged in China for the First Time

Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard is considered to be one of the greatest living playwrights in the world. Best known for his political plays, he has been writing and producing since the 1950s. He has written over 30 plays which have been performed for audiences around the world. However, his work has never been to China – until now.

“In September and October, three of Fugard’s plays – The Island, My Children! My Africa!, and The Train Driver – will be put on by Chen Wencong International Theater Company in Shanghai, with actors from China, South Africa, Ghana and Mongolia,” Sun Shuangjie reports for the Global Times, China’s leading English language newspaper.

StatementsMy Children! My Africa!The Train Driver and Other Plays

Producer Wencong told Global Times that he grew tired of not being able to put on the plays he wants to see himself while working as the China manager of the Broadway Asia Company so he broke away to start his own company. On the question of whether or not Fugard’s work will be relatable for the Chinese audiences, Wencong said that he will do his utmost to ensure that the playwright’s intended meaning with the individual plays comes through in his adaptations. For the performance of My Children! My Africa! Wencong “will substitute the character of the white student with a Chinese actress to make the play better resonate with local audiences”, Shuangjie writes.

Read the article for more on Fugard’s China mainland debut:

Idealism, passion and inspiration

“What I appreciate most is the idealism revealed in Fugard’s work,” said Chen Wencong, founder and director of the theater company. “When I read his scripts, my hair stands on end. They’re so moving and inspiring.”

Chen will direct My Children! My Africa!, and The Train Driver. The former play, a realistic tragedy, tells the story of a black teacher and his students – one white and the other black – during the apartheid era. The latter follows a self-reproaching driver who is plagued by the possibility that he caused a death.

The Island follows the story of two prisoners at the notorious Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. It starts out as a comedy, but by the end delivers a profound message.

Global Times shared the beautiful posters for the three plays:


The Shadow of the HummingbirdFugard’s latest play – The Shadow of the Hummingbird – was published by Human & Rosseau this year and was awarded the 2015 Naledi Award for Best New South African Script.

It explores the loss of innocence and a sense of wonder at the fleeting beauty of the world. Much to the delight of those who had the privilege of seeing it when it was staged in 2014, Fugard made a return to the stage for this production after 15 years of working behind the scenes.


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