Writing Home: The Post Colonial Dialogue of Athol Fugard and August Wilson
Prece, Paul Michael
University of Kansas
Theatre & Film
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ABSTRACT Paul Prece, Ph.D Department of Theatre and Film, April, 2008 University of Kansas Athol Fugard and August Wilson are two of the most prolific, respected, and artistically and commercially successful playwrights of the second half of the twentieth century. They have been contemporaries, writing and re-writing personal histories. For Fugard the endeavor began in the middle of the twentieth century, telling the stories of South Africans during and in the aftermath of apartheid. Wilson's appearance as an American playwright in the early 1980's began a dramatic chronicle that re-visions American life in the twentieth century, after slavery and emancipation, through African American eyes. Wilson's and Fugard's writings mirror one another's attempt to articulate the voices of the disenfranchised. When integrated and read collectively their plays possess the potential to evoke themes and issues for collective interpretation. The dramaturgy of both writers counter-illuminate issues within the societies from which they emerge. Their use of dramatic form and the manner and style in which they (re)present an unsung history seems to suggest a perspective and animus for their writing strategies and almost ideological approach. Their common concerns are especially coherent and well-formulated with respect to history and the relationship between their own literary efforts and the collective record of the past. Their work frames a perspective for hearing what has been uttered but hitherto not repeated in documented history. If history validates and proves, the plays of Fugard and Wilson authenticate by their recreation of experiences that have shaped their own. They have inhabited the history they dramatize, but not the books that claim to tell the story. In this sense their work provides a new framework for hearing and understanding the authentic voices of those muted by apartheid and racism. Neither writer has referred to their dramaturgy as post colonial, nor have many critics. But the work of both men finds its core in the state of being that is identifiable in the post colonial status of subjugated individuals. In the common threads they explore, they mark authentic space and replicate voices in a dialogue that needs to be heard.
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