Athol Fugard's The Shadow of the Hummingbird

Athol Fugard's The Shadow of the Hummingbird



After sold out seasons in Cape Town and Joburg, The Shadow of the Hummingbird enjoys three performances at Bloemfontein’s Andre Huguenet Theatre this week. The production then returns to the Fugard Studio for its very last 5 performances. All performances for the return season at the Fugard Theatre are SOLD OUT and all waiting lists have been closed.

Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre present the South African premiere of The Shadow of the Hummingbird, written by, starring and directed by Athol Fugard, with an introductory scene by Paula Fourie.

Following his recent South African premieres at the Fugard Theatre, including The Train Driver (2010), The Bird Watchers (2011), The Blue Iris (2012) and Die Laaste Karretjiegraf (2012), and the World premieres of the Afrikaans productions of Die Kaptein se Tier (2011) and Playland (2014), Fugard returns to the stage in his 82nd year to continue his relationship with the Cape Town theatre that bears his name.

Fugard, who returns to the stage this year after an absence of 15 years, plays opposite Marviantos Baker in this intimate, delicate two-hander. Besides Fugard, the artistic team includes Fourie (co-director), Mannie Manim (lighting), Saul Radomsky (sets & costume) and James Webb (Sound).

In The Shadow of the Hummingbird, Fugard takes on the role of Oupa, a retired South African teacher living in self-imposed exile in Southern California, and is joined onstage by Baker, playing his grandson, Boba. During the course of one afternoon spent together, Oupa and Boba leap across a generational divide to teach and be taught, and to be reminded that the transient beauty of the world is seen too briefly through unassuming eyes.

In this play, Fugard continues to explore the nooks and crannies of the human heart with wry humor and pathos, always bringing his characteristic warmth to its situations and characters. It is also a play about love, as Fugard notes, “This is the most naked statement I have ever made about that mysterious emotion.”

Inspired by Fugard’s relationship with his own grandson, Gavyn, this intimate play has deep autobiographical roots. The overlapping boundaries between autobiography and fictional storytelling are further explored in Fourie’s introductory scene, which, with recourse to Fugard’s notebooks, places extracts from his personal observations of the past 50 years into his character, Oupa’s, mouth. “People have begun to ask in the past couple of years whether my storytelling has shifted from the political to the personal”, Fugard muses. “My answer has always been – once you reach 80, the time has arrived for a little bit of housecleaning. After all, as Oupa says at the start of the play, ‘The final landscape is within.’”

Yet Fugard maintains that he has never been a political playwright: “All my plays tell South African stories about people in their specific time and place. That has not changed.”

The Shadow of the Hummingbird can currently be seen at Bloemfontein's Andre Huguenet Theatre. The production then returns to the Fugard Studio from 27 – 30 August for its very last 5 performances. For more information visit the Fugard Theatre’s website on or call the box office on 021 461 4554.

This is a special production, which sees Athol Fugard return to the stage for perhaps the very last time and tickets will sell out fast – so advance bookings are highly recommended.

Dates & Times

  • Dates

    27 Aug 2014 - 30 Aug 2014
  • Time

    WED - FRI 8 PM | SAT 4 & 8 PM
  • Price

    R130 - R150
  • Duration

    1 hour

Cast & Creative

  • Cast

    • Athol FugardOupa
    • Marviantoz BakerBoba
  • Creative

    • Athol FugardDirector
    • Paula FourieCo-Director
    • Mannie ManimLighting
    • Saul RadomskySet and Costume
    • James WebbSound