"The Island" by Athol Fugard

2088 Words May 23rd, 2008 9 Pages
The Island (1973) Athol Fugard

A Quick Rundown of The Island

- The Island is a Fugard play that resorts to the Classics to protest Apartheid.
- It takes place in four scenes, opening with a lengthy mimed sequence in which John and Winston, two cell mates in prison on Robben Island, carry out one of the totally pointless and exhausting tasks designed by warders to break the spirit of political prisoners.
- Winston has been sentenced to prison for life because he burned his passbook in front of a police station.
- John has been imprisoned for belonging to a banned organization.
- The story traces the relationship of these two men. Winston is the active rebel,
- and John, the intellectual, is trying to persuade him to play
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- 1970s: Early 1970s seemed to be continuation of ‘60s. Banning of news reports of opposition and overseas, but impossible to silence people completely. Exiled parties and people who were released from the problem tried to let me people know what was happening, but difficult to create literature and art: segregational theatres and restaurants. Act of creating The Island is an act of defiance in itself: different people of different races coming together, monument to defiance of political tyranny, extremely difficult  strategy: no written script until after internationally famous, no evidence, no arrests!

3. The Playwright: Athol Fugard
-Grew up in Port Elizabeth (deeply symbolic place for him.) Lower middle class environment  poor whites of 1930s vs. political conservatives (generalization!) Fugard epitomizes fact that we can’t generalize like this because for five decades, he voiced against racial oppression. Port Elizabeth represents what it’s like to be poor and white in South Africa.
- Scholarship to UCT but never finished his degree, went traveling instead, but always kept in mind his existential philosophy.
(Existentialism: We as humans have some control over our own destinies. We may not be able to choose our situations (like where and when and what colour we are born) but we can choose how we live our lives and what we do with them. For instance, when Winston has to face the fact that John is leaving in 3 months and he is only leaving in 10 years,