A Lesson from Aloes

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A Lesson from Aloes is a 1978 three-hander play by Athol Fugard (1932-).

The original text

A play about loyalty and betrayal in the struggle against apartheid. The action of the play takes place in 1961 in the backyard of a small house in Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth. First performed in 1979 and first published by Oxford University Press, 1981.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1978: First performed by The Company on 30 November 1978 in the Market Theatre, directed by the playwright, with Marius Weyers (Piet Bezuidenhout), Shelagh Holliday (Gladys Bezuidenhout) and Fugard (Steve Daniels).

1979: Produced by the Market Theatre, directed by the playwright, and featuring Marius Weyers, Bill Curry and Shelagh Holliday. Performed in the Concert Hall, Baxter Theatre. Designed by Malcolm Payne, lighting design by Mannie Manim.

1980: Performed Upstairs at the Market in May, directed by Ross Devenish, with Marius Weyers, Bill Curry and Shelagh Holliday, having played to full houses at London's National Theatre. Production photos of this production by Ruphin Coudyzer.

1983: Staged by PACOFS, directed by Cobus Rossouw starring Sandra Kotzé and Schalk Jacobsz.

Production history abroad

1980: UK premiere at the National Theatre, London, directed by Ross Devenish with the original cast. (Some sources say it was directed by Fugard, though both Devenish and photographer Coudyzer have it as Ross Devenish.) The production won rave reviews.

2019: Produced in London by A Million Freds Productions from 27 February - 27 March, in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, London, and by arrangement with Samuel French. Directed by Janet Suzman with Dawid Minnaar as Piet, David Rubin as Steve and Janine Ulfane as Gladys, with set and costumes by Norman Coates and lighting by Mannie Manim. This is the first production of the play in London since its UK premiere at the National Theatre in 1980. Performed to mark the 25th anniversary year of the first free and democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.


The Company theatre programme, 1978.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)



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