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“The Drummer”

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Fugard, Athol (South African Afrikaner playwright, 1932-____), “The Drummer,”

a ten-minute pantomime comedy-drama in English, set on a city pavement, morning, February 27, 1980,

1m (nonspeaking);

  ©  1980 by Athol Fugard;  •  in 25 10-Minute Plays from Actors Theatre of Louisville / Twenty-Five Ten-Minute Plays from Actors Theater of Louisville, foreword by Jon Jory (New York: Samuel French, Inc., 1989), ISBN 0-573-62558-1;  •   script/rights available from Samuel French, Inc., 25 West 45th Street, New York, New York 10010-2751, U.S.A., telephone 212-206-8990, fax 212-206-1429; or 7623 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90046-2795, U.S.A., telephone 213-876-0570, fax 213-876-6822; or 80 Richmond Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1P1, Canada, telephone 416-363-3536, fax 416-363-1108; or Samuel French, Ltd, 52 Fitzroy Street, London W1P 6JR, England, SF 22260, ISBN 0-573-62558-1.

  §  Dramatis Persona The Man (m).

  §  Synopsis The Man, a bum, still sleepy, encounters a pile of rubbish, waiting to be cleared away. He seeks whatever helps the day’s survival. A discarded chair makes his search more comfortable. He finds a drumstick, discards it. When he finds a second drumstick, he retrieves the first, for a set. After savoring the sounds of an ambulance siren and then of a fire engine, he taps idly with a drumstick on the lid of a trash can. Intrigued, he starts a little tattoo on the lid. He empties the trash can and upends it to find a better sound. City noises increase; so does his drumming. He finds a cape amid the trash. Dressed and armed with his sticks, he “sets off to take on the city.” It is full of drums, “and he has got drumsticks.”

  §  Comment Commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville for instructional and performance use by its Apprentice Company, premiered February 27, 1980, this sketch affirms how little discoveries can resurrect and reorient the human spirit. For production, trash should be easy to come by, and city sounds are available from recorded sound effects or recorded from life. Because of the distinction of this South African author, the content takes on special meaning: it is part of his dialogue with the world about race in South Africa and humanity in general. It could serve as an attention-catcher for any convocation addressing race.  •  Published with and can pair with “Americansaint,” “Apres Opera,” “The Asshole Murder Case,” “Bread,” “Cold Water” “Cover,” “Downtown,” “The Duck Pond,” “Eating Out,” “Electric Roses,” “The Field,” “4 A.M. (open all night),” “Marred Bliss,” “Looking Good,” “Love and Peace, Mary Jo,” “Loyalties,” “Perfect,” “Spades,” or “Watermelon Boats.”
  •  “Fugard, Athol (Athol Harold Lanigan Fugard), 1932–, South African playwright, actor, and director. In 1965 he became director of the Serpent Players in Port Elizabeth; in 1972 he was a founder of Cape Town's Space Experimental Theatre. One of the first white playwrights to collaborate with black actors and workers, Fugard writes of the frustrations of life in contemporary South Africa and of overcoming the psychological barriers created by apartheid. Some of his works, such as Blood Knot (1960), the first in his family trilogy, were initially banned in South Africa. Widely acclaimed, his plays include Boesman and Lena (1969), Sizwe Bansi Is Dead (1972), A Lesson from Aloes (1978), the semiautobiographical work Master Harold . . . and the Boys (1982), The Road to Mecca (1985), Playland (1993), Valley Song (1995), and The Captain's Tiger (1998). Fugard has written one novel, Tsotsi (1980). See also his Notebooks 1960–1977 (1983) and Cousins: A Memoir (1998).”—Fugard, Athol, http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/people/A0819826.html, accessed May 11, 2002.

  §  Themes drumming, homelessness, hope, music, poverty, sound, trash.

See also Athol Fugard’s

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