Exits and Entrances
Production: Exits and Entrances
From legendary South African playwright Athol Fugard comes his latest masterpiece, Exits and Entrances, an autobiographical tribute to South Africa's great stage actor André Huguenet, who gave Fugard his first job as an actor.
"André was very important to me in terms of my awareness of theatre. The fact that he was a visionary might well have been the provocation that I needed to formulate a vision of my own," Fugard says.
The South African premiere of Exits and Entrances at the Baxter Theatre Centre from 13 July to 6 August is in the hands of award-winning director Janice Honeyman (Hello and Goodbye, Nothing But the Truth, Twaalfde Nag) and features the experienced Sean Taylor (Playland, King Lear, Equus) as Huguenet and Jason Ralph (Hamlet, "Master Harold"… and the Boys, Skyf) as the young playwright. Top South African designer Saul Radomsky (Poison, Kat and the Kings) is in charge of the set design, and the lighting design will be handled by theatre icon Mannie Manim, responsible for the lighting of numerous award-winning productions, both in South Africa and abroad.
The play focuses on the exit of Huguenet - at the end of his creative life - and the entrance of Fugard, just starting his career as a playwright.
Set in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in 1956 and 1961, the intimate, two-character play chronicles the friendship between the young, idealistic playwright and the older actor struggling unhappily to find meaning and dignity in his fading career.
André Huguenet, who was known at one time as the Laurence Olivier of the South African stage, was found dead in his sister's home in 1961.
Exits and Entrances had its world premiere at The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in 2004 to much critical acclaim, winning the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards for best world premiere, best lead actor and best director.
"We just thought it was an achingly beautiful play about the theatre and passion and why we do what we do as theatre artists," Stephen Sachs, the director of the Los Angeles production, said.
After its season at the Baxter Theatre Centre, Exits and Entrances travels to Pretoria for a three-week run at the State Theatre and thereafter to Johannesburg for a four-week run in the Barney Simon Theatre at the Market Theatre. The Market Theatre season celebrates the first Baxter production to travel to Johannesburg since another Athol Fugard classic, "Master Harold"… and the Boys, played at the Liberty Theatre on the Square in April 2000.
More about Huguenet
His career in the theatre was marked by great successes, yet marred by painful financial failures. Despite these, he celebrated his thirtieth year on the stage in 1956 with a rousing production of Oedipus Rex in English, followed by a production in Afrikaans. By 1959 he was financially and physically ruined. In 1960 he appeared as King Lear, and in April 1961 brought his long and sometimes disheartening theatre career to a close with an outstanding performance as The Prisoner.
Huguenet struggled with despair and loneliness. He was found dead in his sister's home on 15 June 1961. The André Huguenet Theatre in Bloemfontein is named in his honour. Pieter Toerien also named a Johannesburg theatre after him.
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