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Statements after an Arrest under the Immorality Act


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A: Athol Fugard Pf: 1974, London Pb: 1974 G: Drama in 1 act; prose and free verse S: Library and other locations, South African town, 1966 C: 2m, 1f‘A Coloured Man’ (Errol Philander), a married school principal from the local black township, is lying naked on the floor of the library with ‘a White Woman’ (Frieda Joubert), a librarian six years older than him. Their love is threatened not only by the fear of being discovered breaking the law forbidding sex between blacks and whites but also by the tensions between them, owing to the suffering of the black citizens especially during a period of drought. A white neighbour reports her suspicions to the authorities, and two police arrive with torches and a camera with flashbulbs. Panicked by being discovered, the Woman gabbles an incoherent explanation, while the Man desperately pretends that he has come with a formal request for water for his family. Lit only by the torches, the Woman describes how they became lovers. Finally, the Man describes in verse how his arrest has dispossessed him of everything: ‘there is only the emptiness left’.

A: Athol Fugard Pf: 1974, London Pb: 1974 G: Drama in 1 act; prose and free verse S: Library and other locations, South African town, 1966 C: 2m, 1f

Starting from the unadorned simplicity of two naked bodies lying on a blanket, this piece passes through the torchlit nightmare of the police raid to the poetic insights of the ending. As in C. P. Taylor's Good, this play demonstrates too how one of the most disturbing features of an oppressive regime is the breakdown in trust between those who are closest.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Athol Fugard (b. 1932) South African dramatist


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