HAVE YOU SEEN US? BY ATHOL FUGARD AT FOLGER THEATRE ON JUNE 9TH – Long Whaf Theatre
WASHINGTON, DC – The Faith & Politics Institute will present the Long Wharf Theatre production of Have You Seen Us?, written by master playwright Athol Fugard, in a one-night only staged reading Wednesday, June 9 at 6 p.m. at Folger Theatre, located at 201 East Capitol Street, Washington D.C. The reading will be followed by a panel discussion with Mr. Fugard, director Gordon Edelstein, and the cast. The evening’s Honorary Host is the Honorable Rep. Rosa DeLauro and NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg will moderate the panel discussion.
Have You Seen Us? is directed by Edelstein, Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre of New Haven, Connecticut, and performed by Sam Waterston, Liza Colon- Zayas, Sol Frieder and Elaine Kussack. “It is an incredible honor to be asked to present our work in Washington D.C. Athol Fugard is a writer of international importance … this is a play about intolerance and about the hatred inside of our souls. I hope it serves as a reminder of our need to remain humble and tolerant,” said Edelstein. “The play ends on a note of the possibility of redemption, that it is in humans to redeem themselves – to heal the broken world.”
Rep. DeLauro is a long time Long Wharf Theatre subscriber, growing up a short drive from the theatre in the New Haven’s historic Wooster Square neighborhood. “I am extremely proud to be an honorary host of the Long Wharf Theatre’s one night only performance at Washington’s Folger Theatre of the play Have You Seen Us?,” said DeLauro. “This extraordinary story – starring Sam Waterston – delivers a powerful message on the human spirit confronting and overcoming the ugliness of anti-Semitism and discrimination. As Long Wharf Theatre calls New Haven, Connecticut home in my congressional district, I am so pleased that this performance will be open to Members of Congress from across the country who will have a chance to share in this story of charity and tolerance.”
The play takes place in a diner in a Southern California strip mall. Henry Parsons comes in for his usual—a turkey sandwich—and insulting banter with Adela, the Mexican immigrant waitress. The two creep toward a fragile understanding until Solly and Rachel, an eastern European Jewish couple, sit down to eat. The couple’s entrance forces Henry to a reckoning with the indelible remains of his past; and, for a moment, unites four lost souls. Variety described the show as “a blessing of a play” and the New Haven Advocate said “Fugard dares to wonder, and creates wondrous works that speak clearly to his intended audiences.”
With this new play, which ran November 24 through December 20 on Long Wharf Theatre’s Mainstage, Fugard asks the same questions about America to which for 50 years he has sought answers in South Africa. Why do we hate? Why does racial prejudice persist in our society? How can expressing racial hatred be a means to transcendence? Have You Seen Us? shines a light on a subject Americans have begun looking at with renewed interest. Fugard’s intimate story insists that America recognize anew its age-old identity: that of a nation made up of almost all immigrants—each of us “outsiders” in search of our common humanity.
Fr. Clete Kiley, President of The Faith & Politics Institute, stated, “Mr. Fugard’s fine work captures the depth of the quest for truth and reconciliation in our own spirits as well as in our social and political structures. It is exemplary of the wisdom with which we in the United States can be graced from South African experience.”
Fugard described the opportunity to have his newest play performed in Washington D.C. as a “great great honor” and hopes to be able to make a positive impact on the national dialogue surrounding race. “This play deals with prejudice, an ongoing evil, psychic virus in the world … I hope I can make some contribution, that this play can make some contribution to the debate and dilemma of prejudice,” Fugard said.
Sam Waterston, who has previously performed at the Folger, will reprise his role of Henry Parsons, a South African expatriate struggling with the twin demons of alcoholism and prejudice. “Athol Fugard has written a personal play about a handful of individuals classed by where they come from. The play’s not political. It does have some intimate news about what the invisible world is like where people lost between two countries live,” said Waterston.
For nineteen years, THE FAITH & POLITICS INSTITUTE has served hundreds of members of Congress and congressional staff by offering experiential pilgrimages, reflection groups, retreats and public forums. In a world that is increasingly interconnected, the institute is dedicated to doing this work with the Congress because of their ties to a broad constituency and their leadership in local, national and global policy. The organization believes that a commitment to a relatively small but influential group of people will ultimately reach many.
LONG WHARF THEATRE, entering its 46th season, is recognized as a leader in American theatre, producing fresh and imaginative revivals of classics and modern plays, rediscoveries of neglected works and a variety of world and American premieres. More than 30 Long Wharf productions have transferred virtually intact to Broadway or Off-Broadway, some of which include The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Wit by Margaret Edson, The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer and The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn. The theatre is an incubator of new works, including last season’s Have You Seen Us? by Athol Fugard. Long Wharf Theatre has received New York Drama Critics Awards, Obie Awards, the Margo Jefferson Award for Production of New Works, a Special Citation from the Outer Critics Circle and the Tony® Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY is a center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts, with Folger Theatre the vibrant centerpiece of its public programs. Learn more at www.folger.edu.