A special Tony for SA’s Athol Fugard

Gareth Wilson

SOUTH AFRICAN anti- apartheid playwright Athol Fugard is set to receive a lifetime achievement award at the 65th Annual Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway, New York.

Fugard, 78, an internationally recognised  playwright, director and actor, will receive the prestigious award at the gala event in June.

The Tony Awards, for excellence in theatre are awarded by the American Theatre Wing.
Fugard was born in Middelburg, but spent most of his adolescent life in Port Elizabeth.

He attended the University of Cape Town but dropped out before his final exams to hitch-hike across North Africa. He then found a job as a deckhand on a ship and sailed the world. On his return to South Africa, he started writing plays.

Fugard’s plays have been performed in theatres across South Africa, and in London, New York and elsewhere in the United States. 

Last year, he returned to South Africa and staged The Train Driver at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town.

The play – set in a graveyard on the outskirts of Motherwell – was dedicated to Pumla Lolwana and her three children who died on the railway tracks between Philippi and Nyanga on the Cape Flats in December 2000.

Fugard gained further international recognition when his novel Tsotsi was turned into an award- winning film.  The movie won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2005.
Fugard’s other plays include  No-Good Friday, Non-Gogo, The Blood Knot, Hello and Goodbye, People Are Living There and Boesman and Lena.

According to event organisers, he is “a playwright whose art has always spoken out against racism and [who] continues to be an active voice for freedom and equality”.

He and his wife, Sheila Meiring, a former University of Cape Town drama school student whom he met before travelling the world, now live in San Diego, California.

Fugard is an adjunct professor of playwriting,  acting, and directing in the theatre and dance department at the University of California.

His American counterpart Eve Ensler, 57, will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award for her humanitarian efforts. She is well known for her book The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and distributed in more than 140 countries.

Ensler also performed various plays around the world and will receive her award for her time and effort spent helping humanitarian and charitable organisations.

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