Valley Song

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'Valley Song' is a 1995 two-actor, three-character drama by Athol Fugard.

The American première, directed by Fugard, took place at the McCarter Theater in New Jersey in October 1995, with Lisa Gay Hamilton as Veronica and Fugard as Buks/Author.

Subject

Staged early in the New South Africa (1995) the play was, on one level, autobiographical about an elderly man finding himself more comfortable in the familiar and secure, if confined reality of the past, while on another it dealt with the challenges and opportunities facing a new generation in an entirely new environment. An old Coloured man in the rural Eastern Cape has lovingly brought up his teenage granddaughter in the values, the fears and the limited expectations of the old South Africa, but she has aspirations to be more. Life has given her one thing, a lovely singing voice, and she wants to sing her own song. More, she wants to become a famous singing star in Johannesburg, the City of Gold. Hers is a dream of freedom. The metaphor is apparent; the old must find the wisdom to let go of the past and the new must find the courage to take the first steps into the future. In an interview at the time of the première the playwright commented, also in the narrower context of the arts, “I believe that we are going to get it (the new South Africa) right. I believe there is an exciting time ahead for us in the arts as our new reality emerges and as our artists focus on the new reality. Maybe we lack focus at the moment and maybe that’s because our reality isn’t defined”. [Van Heerden (2008)][1]. p 153.

Performance history in South Africa

1995: Premièred at the Market Theatre in August, directed by the playwright, with Esmeralda Bihl as Veronica and Fugard as Buks/Author and was staged at the Hilton Drama Festival in September. In October a production opened in the State Theatre, directed by Athol Fugard, with Esmeralda Bihl, but with Louis van Niekerk taking over the role of Buks/Author from Fugard.

1996: Staged at the KKNK, directed by Fugard, with Esmeralda Bihl as Veronica and Fugard as Buks/Author. The role of Buks was later taken over by Marius Weyers.

2003: Staged in the Studio at the Baxter Theatre by Mannie Manim Productions, directed by Barbara Rubin, with Quanita Adams (Veronica) and Ivan Abrahams (Buks).

2003: Lied van die Vallei, the Afrikaans translation by Idil Sheard, was staged in the Dutch Reformed mission church, which was converted into a theatre, in the village of Nieu-Bethesda where the action was originally placed. The production was directed by Sheard, with local residents Sonja Boezak (Veronica) and Arno du Toit (Buks) playing the main parts.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Lied van die Vallei by Idil Sheard and published by Maskew Miller Longman Pty.Ltd.South Africa (2006).

In 2004 an opera version premièred at the Spier Arts Festival, with a libretto by Guy Willoughby and a score by Thomas Rajna.

Sources

KKNK theatre programme, 1996.

EP Herald, 25 September 2003.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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