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Island


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AT: Die Hodoshe Span A: Athol Fugard, with John Kani and Winston Ntshona Pf: 1973, Cape Town Pb: 1974 G: Drama in 1 act S: Robben Island prison, c.1970 C: 2mJohn and Winston have been sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on Robben Island for burning their passbooks. The (unseen) sadistic guard Hodoshe ( =  ‘carrion-fly’) subjects them to humiliating punishments and beatings. John reminds Winston that he must prepare for his role as Antigone in a prison concert in six days' time and talks the rather slow-witted Winston through the plot of Sophocles' Antigone and her trial for burying her brother Polyneices, a traitor to the state. John then pretends to phone his friend Scott in Port Elizabeth: sending love to Winston's wife, and to his own, their mood suddenly becomes subdued. Five days later, Winston tries on his costume, false breasts and a wig made of rope. John collapses in hysterical laughter, and Winston grows angry and almost refuses to do the role. John is called away to be told that his sentence has been reduced and that he will be free in three months' time. At first both men are jubilant, but then John feels guilty and Winston resentful: ‘Your freedom stinks, John, and it's driving me mad.’ At the concert, John as Creon condemns Winston as Antigone to be immured on ‘the Island’. ‘Antigone’ takes her leave: ‘I go now to my living death, because I honoured those things to which honour belongs.’

AT: Die Hodoshe Span A: Athol Fugard, with John Kani and Winston Ntshona Pf: 1973, Cape Town Pb: 1974 G: Drama in 1 act S: Robben Island prison, c.1970 C: 2m

One of the simplest and finest products of anti-apartheid theatre, The Island draws on Greek tragedy to suggest that there is a higher law of humanity than the law of the state. The play moves flawlessly from comedy to high seriousness, creating thought-provoking entertainment.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Athol Fugard (b. 1932) South African dramatist


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