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Notes from the Producer
I have wanted to bring The Island back to our stage since 1991 when it was first produced in our little storefront on Duke Street. Original cast member Doug Brown has returned to the role of Winston 24 years later. In the theatre time really does fly!
This remarkable play devised by Athol Fugard with his colleagues John Kani and Winston Ntshona created something on the stage so real, so powerful, so honest and so human depicting the horror of apartheid South Africa that it is wrenching, yet at the same time heart-felt and elevating. All things important today and throughout history-from fighting for equality, revering family and community, the political stands taken against oppression, in this case by black activists in South Africa against apartheid, or the classic stand by Antigone against the state when she defied King Creon and chose to illegally bury her warrior brother-all resonate in this world today. Too many are oppressed by too few and man’s inhumanity to man has continued into the twenty-first century. In fact in some cases it seems to have escalated.
The Island is one of the most memorable, inspiring, dramatic works that we have ever produced-in my opinion ever written. Fugard has written a masterpiece that resonates with everyone who cares about equality, human dignity and the right to live a fulfilling life. Sadly, parts of the world today have devolved into chaos/horror, whether it be the plight of Syrian refugees, oppressed religions, or continuing tribal warfare, but one thing we have to believe is that the human spirit will ultimately triumph. Thank you Athol, John and Winston and to MetroStage director Tom Jones and actors Doug Brown and Michael Anthony Williams for providing us the means to feel, to believe, to embrace the power of our collective humanity. Isn’t this what the theatre stage is for-to collectively share this experience and be empowered to work towards change, progress and fulfillment for all?
by Carolyn Griffin, March, 2015
Postscript: A brief history. The Island was first performed in Cape Town at The Space July, 1973. Next staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Opened on Broadway in rep with Sizwe Bansi is Dead November, 1974. John Kani and Winston Ntshona were co-nominated and co-winners of the Tony Award for Best Actor(s) in a Play. The play also received Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Direction.
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