Valley Song

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two-actor, three-character drama by Athol Fugard.


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

Premièred at the Market Theatre in August 1995, directed by the playwright, with Esmeralda Bihl as Veronica and Fugard as Buks/Author and was staged at the Hilton Drama Festival in September 1995.

In October 1995 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.

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.

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

EDIT>> KKNK 1996**. Brought to the Baxter Theatre in 2003 by Mannie Manim Productions, featuring Quanita Adams, Ivan Abrahams, **and directed by Barbara Rubin. In 2005 an opera version of the play was performed in the Spier Amphitheatre]] in Stellenbosch, with score by ***, libretto by Guy Willougby?** and directed by ***. In March 2006 an Afrikaans version by Idil Sheard, entitled ***, was done in the ** [see piece in CESAT Material] at Nieu Bethesda, . First published by ** in 200**. The Afrikaans version published in 200* by **

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 2003 an opera version was created with a libretto by Guy Willoughby and a score by Thomas Rajna. This premièred at the Spier Arts Festival in 2004.


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