Entertainment Theatre Fugard's Boesman and Lena at the Baxter

Fugard's Boesman and Lena at the Baxter

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The Baxter pays tribute to literary luminary Athol Fugard with his classic masterpiece Boesman and Lena this September.

Athol Fugard’s classic masterpiece Boesman and Lena comes to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, for three weeks only, from 5 to 29 September, at 8.15pm nightly, following its highly successful run in Johannesburg recently.

Boesman and Lena premiered in Grahamstown in 1969 starring the author himself and Yvonne Bryceland in the lead roles. The story was inspired by an incident that took place in 1965 when Fugard was driving down a rural road in the Eastern Cape, where he was born and grew up. While driving he noticed an old lady walking in the scorching sun, in the middle of nowhere, and offered her a lift. Overcome with gratitude, she burst out crying as she told him that her husband had just died and she was walking to another farm.

If Fugard hadn’t stopped, she would have spent the night on the side of the road. It was a common practice in apartheid South Africa for farmers to evict the family once a worker died. What struck the playwright was that, despite the woman’s pain and suffering, she was far from defeated.Set in the Swartkops mudflats just outside Port Elizabeth, the play deals with two lonely weather-beaten individuals trapped in a struggle for freedom and dignity. It explores the complex mosaic of human emotions, racial politics and universal questions of existence.

The once happy and stable couple have become two homeless drifters who now roam around, carrying their worldly possessions with them. Lena is Boesman’s psychological, emotional and physical punching bag. Her mind is garbled by a combination of alcohol and the years of hardship and instability that have brought them to this point. Out of the smouldering embers of their current reality comes a fresh understanding and hope of something new, maybe even better than the miserable existence which their lives have become.

Presented by arrangement with the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square, the contemporary revival is directed by James Ncgobo and stars Quanita Adams and Elton Landrew in the title roles with Charly Azade as Outa. The production design is by Nadya Cohen with costumes by Thando Lobese and original lighting by Oliver Hauser.

“It is wonderful news about Boesman and Lena at the Baxter - I have heard and read a lot about this production,” says an elated Fugard. “The decision to put this production on a Baxter stage is quite simply one of the best birthday presents I have received in my 80th year. I am truly very thrilled!”

In this new interpretation of the classic, acclaimed stage and television actor, writer and director Ncgobo has chosen to shift the dynamic and explore how now, more than ever, it is pertinent to the South African landscape. His direction of Fugard’s well-loved three-hander is fresh and compelling and to further enhance the dynamic of the play he has cast Azade, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the Outa character.

Boesman and Lena, which is also a prescribed setwork for high schools, previews at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio on 5 and 6 September, opens on 7 and runs until 29 September at 8.15pm nightly. Ticket prices range from R100 (for Baxter Mondays which include a dinner-and-show combination), R110 for the previews, R130 on Tuesdays to Thursdays and R150 over weekends (Fridays and Saturdays).

Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.baxter.co.za or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.