The Monday Interview Athol Fugard Essay — страница 3

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self-disgust.” He’s been teetotal for 16 years now. The moment he stopped, he says, he heard a little demon in his head whispering that he needed drink to oil the cogs and that he wouldn’t be able to write without it. Is that voice still with you? “Oh, all the time.” He says drink is only one thing that has made him self-absorbed; that writers are selfish by definition. “A lot of people got less from me than they should have. Creativity is very selfish. Scandalously so, in fact. We feed on people.” Who got less? “Everybody. Family. Friends. I’m trying to undo that now. I realise that it needn’t of necessity be that way. Maybe this is just a mellowing that comes with age.” You’re anything but mellow, I say. “Yes, yes! Impatient! Impatient! Using a

situation and moving on, always moving on. He talks about the way he’s interested in schoolchildren and education when he’s writing a play about schoolchildren, and then once it’s finished he’s off to mine the next subject. I ask him whether it is difficult being a great white writer in the new South Africa. “I do not think of myself in those terms. I daren’t. I don’t let that into my life; you can’t; it’s a trap,” he says quietly. Suddenly he’s fuming. “Just listen to those words you’ve used. That’s awful. You can’t think of yourself in that way.” But isn’t it inevitable that South Africa is now looking for the great black playwright? “I just tell the stories I’ve got to tell, that’s all. I’m a regional storyteller. The human imagination

is all about the ability to transcend the limits of our own experience, and to empathise ourselves into other realities. One of the worst things that can happen to writing is political correctness.” But there are people saying: why are we still hearing white voices, where are the black voices? “Yeah, yeah, there you go, that’s what I’m talking about. You’ve got it. People are saying that all the time.” What does it make you feel? “Impatience. Because you know if they were just to sit down and think about it, they’re going to end up with a situation where they’re going to say to you: as a writer you can only write about yourself. In other words, it’s a form of misguided liberal apartheid.” “As for representing blacks, Shakespeare had to represent Othello

and didn’t do too badly, did he?” Marianne says, defensively. “Who’s this?” Fugard asks. “Shakespeare has represented blacks,” Marianne repeats. “Oh ja. Ja. Jumped right out of his skin. Ja. Ja. Extraordinary. There’s a wonderful definition of Shakespeare at a dinner party, and he’s got Winston Churchill on one side and Hitler on the other, and he’s having a wonderful conversation with both of them, and both of them feel they’ve got a kindred spirit sitting next to them. You’ve got to do that as a writer. You’re a kind of whore. Ja. Ja. That’s right.”