THEATRE – Independent Theatre 2014 Preview – Master Harold




In this, its 30th birthday year, Independent Theatre is producing not three plays but four.  Having just completed its critically acclaimed production of Bernard Shaw’s CAESAR & CLEOPATRA, the company is turning its attention to South African playwright Athol Fugard’s masterpiece – “MASTER HAROLD” . . . AND THE BOYS.

Set in Port Elizabeth in 1950 – at the start of the Apartheid era – Fugard’s play looks at the relationship between a white schoolboy and his best friends – two African waiters in his mother’s tea-room.  During the course of a rainy afternoon, the whole world of South African racism is exposed in a series of conversations about kite-flying and ballroom dancing.  Then something snaps, and in an instant – in a world gone awry – the boy becomes “Master Harold”, and the two men (his surrogate fathers) are relegated to the status of “boy”.



The play is more than a little autobiographical.  Fugard’s middle name is Harold.  His mother did run a tea-room in St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, and her two servants were the young Fugard’s best friends.  After a rare argument with his friend Sam, the boy humiliated the man in much the same way as Harold does to Sam in the play.  Fugard has said that he wrote the play partly to exorcise the shame that had haunted him since that action.

Because of its specific casting needs, the play has never been seen on stage in Adelaide.  Starting with Cry the Beloved Country in 2006, and continuing with Mister Johnson, To Kill a Mockingbird, Free Man of Colour and Othello, Independent Theatre has a pioneering and well-established history of working with African actors.  Indeed, director Rob Croser has just won the SA Governor’s Multicultural Arts and Culture Award for his work with actors from all over the African continent.

The play’s cast of 3 is as follows :




Shedrick Yarkpai has starred in CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY, MISTER JOHNSON, FREE MAN OF COLOUR and OTHELLO.  He was most recently seen in State Theatre’s MAGGIE STONE. 

·         Kenyan-born Samuel Mwangi worked on stage and in television in Nairobi before coming to Australia. 

·         Benji Riggs is a Year 12 student and talented star of many Adelaide Youth Theatre productions.

Fugard’s classic was unable to be performed in South Africa when he wrote it, and, instead, had its world premiere in USA.

Even now that Apartheid has been disbanded, the play still resonates with any society in which people are subjugated to others by virtue of race.


GOODWOOD INSTITUTE (home of Urban Myth Theatre), 166a Goodwood Rd, Goodwood

May 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 @ 7.30; matinee Saturday 31 @ 2.00.  90 minutes, no interval.

Bookings at or BASS

Enquiries – Allen Munn 0419 830 768

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