College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in English (MA)


Stephen Bell


Athol Fugard, Apartheid, Theater, Post-colonialism, Sociopolitical, Dehumanization


English Language and Literature


South African white playwright Athol Fugard utilized his theatrical expertise to articulate a socially conscious voice of protest against the oppressive systems implemented by the South African Apartheid government. Because of his writing taking place in the particularized Apartheid-specific setting, where he, as a member of the white minority, he was afforded the freedoms and opportunities which were not offered to members of non-white races. Thus, although Fugard’s race offered him opportunities to protest Apartheid, it brought the possibility of incorrectly portraying non-white South Africans. This incorrect portrayal, known as the “white savior complex,” wherein a white figure rescues the oppressed, often non-whites, and saves them from their ailment. Understanding this, Fugard fought against this tendency while crafting his play through the methods employed in the writing of his plays. Fugard’s use of the theatrical novelty of workshop theater, whereby cast members would improvise every scene to craft a script, allowed for the creation of a more authentic black voice within his plays. Through this method, Fugard collaborated with the actors and create scripts based on their personal experiences and “bear truthful witness” to the oppressive Apartheid system and those most greatly affected by it.