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"Master Harold and the Boys": A Racial Awareness Play


I have decided to create a blog to communicate the racial issues demonstrated in the literary work ‘’Master Harold and the Boys’’ by Athol Fugard, a short play set during the apartheid era (a system of racial segregation that was practiced In South Africa during 1948-1994). This blog will reflect on the key themes and symbols which were presented in the play, specifically the theme of dissatisfaction and disillusionment in relation to race. It will examine both aspects of the play through the eyes of a South African Theatergoer who does not understand why the short play was banned when it first came out in 1982.

The author of the blog (Lisa Rayvon) is a victim of dissatisfaction and disillusionment who cannot get over the trials and tribulations she faced while growing up with the belief that ‘’Master Harold and the boys’’ creates an awareness of these issues and should be performed across the globe. While growing up, she encountered a variety of racial practices in school and strives to advocate an end to racism through this piece of writing.

The blog will explore this theme through a flashback reflecting on the author’s racial struggle, furthermore, incorporating the symbol of ‘’a kite’’ which is explored in the play.

Because I have chosen a blog, I am mindful that the format should attract a wide audience as it is public and accessible to anyone willing to read it, preferably; individuals who wish to end racism. I am required to construct a topic that will attract a range of readers. I have also provided a comment box which allows the readers of my blog to incorporate their own thoughts and ideas, likewise allowing me to reflect back to it in my own perspective.

Master Harold and the boys book cover

Master Harold and the boys book cover

Why was this ever banned? I have asked myself multiple times. But cannot get an answer.

Recently, I watched the play was amazed by how it was set up it. The beautiful decorations on the stage and the amazing actors all went so well. I simply cannot understand why this play was ever banned.

Athol Fugard wrote the play to reflect on his past, and his aim was to communicate the types of relationships that existed between a group of individuals and how they were put to the test by society and other interpersonal forces. How could this have offended anyone? I do not quite understand. The play essentially focuses on past events that took place in South Africa, his home country; using true events that occurred naturally to some and changed the lives of many in different ways during apartheid. I cannot identify to whom the story-line was directly aimed at, and for this reason, no one should feel insulted or disregarded by this piece of art. It aimed to highlight the mistakes of many and advocate love and peace. The play itself included the viewpoints of multiple ethnicities and was centered along a variety of perspectives.

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As I watched the play, I felt as though a spike of emotion had been thrust through my heart. All the blood, sweat and tears shimmering in drops of what I like to call ‘’Trials and Tribulations’’

I had just left the grocery store with my mother and we were headed for the car. I recall exceptionally well that I had a kite in my hand. A very special kite that she had got me for my 12th birthday a few months before this day. Just as we were about to drive away, two white men with profound eyes came and stepped foot in front of our car. They demanded us to give them everything we had bought. One claimed that my mother and I were not licensed to park our car in a parking zone and we ought to have left the car in a street 3 blocks away. The other frankly stated that black people were not allowed to be in that area. The men demanded us to hand over everything we had bought or they would take my mother’s car. A feeling of cold sweat ran through my body. I felt as though my skin was about to abandon its body. I did not know what to suggest, I just held my mother’s hand, closed my eyes and wished it was all just a dream. Then I heard my mother’s voice ‘’we do not have anything that we can willingly give away, the groceries are intended to last a month’’ she said. Sometimes we would actually spare some food for 2 months as we were too frightened to step foot out of our zone. The men did not show any sympathy and they dashed us out of our car and left us there with nothing. Home was a long way from town, we had to walk 2 miles to get to private transport, and it was at least 3 hours from there to where we lived. I remember vividly, the agony my mother and I faced on this day.

I walked to school the following day. I could not help but think of the misery I had left at home. I envisioned how my mother had gotten to work and whether or not she had a smile on her face. I was one of the 5 black students left in the private school I attended. All the teachers originated from the white ethnicity and everyone besides my 4 black peers despised me and called me the ‘’immortal Black kid’’ because they could not simply understand how a black family could earn just as much as the white race did. I received a lot of remarks while growing up, a variety too. The majority were generalised, like ‘’All Black people are poor and lazy’’ some did not actually make sense, they were simply filled with Euphemisms. I had to stay strong like Nelson Mandela and pretend I had rock emotions in order to survive the misfortune.

I vividly recall a student coming up to me on this very same day. She mentioned that she had seen me with a kite the previous day and she had found a similar one in their trashcan. She explained how her father had bought a new car and an astonishing amount of groceries aiming to celebrate their happy family. My head immediately told me that these goods belonged to my family, but my heart demanded to wait and hear what the girl had to say.

A feeling of contentment touched me when the girl mentioned that she wanted me to keep the kite if I recognized it. I was filled with a variety of emotions. For the very first time, an individual from the white ethnicity had not only spoken to me in a kind manner but also brought a smile to my face. She said she found my kite very attractive and she wished she had her own. I offered to let her keep it, but she suggested sharing the kite with me instead.

The memories of the kite flying days still live within me, yet they slowly fade each time I smile for a different reason. One thing I will never forget is how a piece of scrapped paper brought two children from combatant groups together.Just like the kite brought Sam and Hally together in Master Harold and the boys. A happy memory that is shared in two different scenes, yet similar contexts.Due to one ideology that convinced the government into believing that racial segregation should exist.

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