My review of The Shadow of a Hummingbird, the new play by Athol Fugard starring Athol Fugard, is on the New Haven Independent site, here.
I have enduring memories of the last time Fugard performed in New Haven, in 1987 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in his A Place With the Pigs. Both Pigs and Hummingbird have confining sets which Fugard created for himself to navigate as an actor. One of the times I interviewed him, we talked about how most of his plays can be performed in a very small space. (I note in my Independent review that it’s common for scenic designers to envision Fugard plays as taking place on small platforms that feel like islands in the middle of a large room.) Fugard told me that this method originally came about through practicality and perhaps a little self-preservation. His early anti-apartheid works would be staged with little set-up in living rooms and huts. If the shows were raided, the actors needed to escape quickly.
That’s not a consideration with Shadow of the Hummingbird, but it takes place in a small space nonetheless—a writer’s study, cluttered with books and hobbies and other distractions. The elderly actor/playwright grants himself a couple of places to sit, and enough floor to lie down upon. He also gets to perform the whole show in his pajamas.
You can see from this photo of A Place With the Pigs (in which Fugard co-starred with Suzanne Shepherd) that he allowed for writing and sitting in that show too. How comparatively spry he seems there, at age 55!