First Advisor

Richard Wattenberg

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theatre Art


Theater Arts




Athol Fugard-- Criticism and interpretation, Space and time in literature



Physical Description

1 online resource (75 p.)


The South African playwright Athol Fugard of ten explores the problems which apartheid has created within his society -problems ranging from the racial and societal to the spiritual. He seems to communicate his thoughts about these issues through many direct references to space. This study investigates the meanings these spaces communicate. Four plays were chosen as representative of Fugard's subject matter (covering both white and non-white society) and career: Blood Knot (1963), People are Living There (1970), The Road to Mecca (1985), and My Children, My Africa (1990). Then three steps were carefully followed. First, each reference to space was identified and categorized using Keir Elam's and Susanne Langer's definition of "virtual space" as guide to the establishment of categories. Three categories were established: virtual space (that which is immediately visible to the audience), extended-virtual space (the off stage world which is real to the characters but unseen by the audience), and imaginary space (that which the characters project on or into the world around them). second, patterns and relationships among the spaces were identified (using Kenneth Burke's and Mary McCarthy's methodology of image clusters and dramatic alignments). Third and finally, the meaning of these patterns was explored, often using Edward Hall's science of proxemics to facilitate understanding. There is considerable similarity and continuity from play to play in the use of space. Fugard often employs references to extended-virtual space to communicate the many ills which have arisen in South African society. He also typically includes a virtual space or spaces which provide a safe haven from those ills. In addition, be almost always uses reference to imaginary space or spaces to communicate the hope for the future of freedom for all of South Africa's people. Ideally, the recognition of the spaces in Fugard's work should be actively, and knowingly, articulated in any production of his plays. This study provides a methodology for exploring these spaces and an indication of what many of the spaces mean.


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