A Human Being Died That Night

A Human Being Died That Night



Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre present A Human Being Died That Night, a play by Nicholas Wright.

Following the South African and World Premiere season at the Fugard Studio Theatre in Cape Town, which ran from 20 February – 15 March 2014, The Fugard Theatre production of A Human Being Died That Night transfers to London, for a formal season back at the Hampstead Theatre from 22 May – 21 June 2014. 

The play was first produced by Eric Abraham at The Hampstead Downstairs, London in May of 2013 and ran for a sold out 5 week season.  It was an “underground” workshop run without press or critics. Social media comments from those who saw it were sensational and overwhelming. A Human Being Died That Night will be directed by Jonathan Munby (UK) and co-directed by Greg Karvellas (SA).

1997. Pretoria Central Prison, South Africa. Psychologist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela prepares to sit opposite the apartheid regime’s most notorious assassin, Eugene de Kock nicknamed “Prime Evil”– the head of the apartheid regime’s death squads. A member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Madizikela questions de Kock who is serving a 212 year sentence for crimes against humanity, murder, conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms, and fraud. She is determined to try to understand what motivated de Kock’s actions. One is reminded of European writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt’s endeavor to understand the nature of evil when she wrote about the Nazi holocaust architect Adolf Eichman’s trial in Israel in 1962.

How did de Kock become one of the most reviled figures in apartheid and indeed world history? Is Pumla able to overcome her disgust and hate for this monster and find the human within? And will de Kock be prepared to open up and tell an educated black woman the truth?  Or is he seeing her as someone who can help his campaign for a presidential pardon?

A Human Being Died That Night is based on Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madizikela ‘s Alan Paton award-winning best-selling book of the same name and explores, through her extraordinary prison interviews with de Kock, how a fundamentally moral person could become a mass murderer. She questions his continued imprisonment. South African born Nicholas Wright is one of Britain’s foremost playwrights who has regularly written for the National Theatre. His plays include Vincent in Brixton (Laurence Olivier Award for Best new Play 2003), The Reporter (2007), The Last Duchess (The Hampstead Theatre 2011) and Travelling Light (2012).

Noma Dumezweni is a highly regarded Swazi born British stage, film and tv actress who won the Laurence Olivier Award for her supporting role in Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun (Young Vic and Lyric Theatre). Matthew Marsh is one of Britain’s foremost actors with credits that range from The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep to the hit BBC TV series Spooks.

Director Jonathan Munby‘s last production at the Fugard Theatre was Caryl Churchill’s A Number with father and son British theatre stars Tim and Sam West. Additional theatre credits include Heinrich von Kleist’s The Prince of Homberg (Donmar Warehouse), Pedro de la Barca’s Life Is A Dream (Donmar Warehouse), A Midsummer's Nights Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company (at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre) and the five star reviewed Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Company). The creative team on A Human Being Died That Night is Paul Wills (UK, SA) on design; lighting by Daniel Galloway (SA) and Tim Mitchell (UK), and sound design by James Webb (SA) and Christopher Shutt (UK).

Bookings are now open for the season at the Hampstead Downstairs.


★★★★★ Unmissable. Marsh is magnificent - Independent (UK)
★★★★ Intimate and intense experience. - Evening Standard (UK)
★★★★ Remarkable. Intense. Thrilling and cut with humour. Marsh is phenomenal. Brilliant Dumezweni. - The Times (UK)
A suspenseful, profound production that hits you hard in all the right places. You need to see it. - Cape Times
★★★★ ... tightly scripted, intense, well-crafted ... - Cape Argus
If there is one play you see this year – or even if this is the first in ages – make the effort to see A Human Being Died That Night - The Sunday Independent
A rare, perfect theatrical experience. - Broadwayworld.com
… a superb piece of theatre … - Artslink

Dates & Times

  • Dates

    22 May 2014 - 21 Jun 2014
  • Language


Cast & Creative

  • Cast

    • Noma DumezweniPumla Gobodo-Madikizela
    • Matthew MarshEugene de Kock
  • Creative

    • Nicholas WrightPlaywright
    • Jonathan MunbyDirector
    • Paul WillsDesigner
    • Tim MitchellOriginal Lighting Designer
    • Daniel GallowayLighting Designer
    • Christopher ShuttOriginal Sound Designer
    • Greg Karvellas Associate Director
    • Jackie OrtonCostume Supervisor
    • Jan Haydn-RowlesDialect Coach


Friends of The Fugard

Sign up here to become a Friend of The Fugard Member, receive up to 20% off your ticket purchases and to keep in the loop with the latest productions that are happening at The Fugard by receiving our newsletters.