I’m developing a “new global literature” online course, which means lots of lovely reading! For each of the literature courses I have developed, I like to implement a variety of genres. Further, since this is global literature, I need to think about several nations or regions being represented that are not European or Western in focus. Finally, since this is “new” global literature, I decided that everything needed to be published after 9/11, as a starting point to thinking about how globalization changed. This is all a very long preamble to my review, but that’s the reason I read a play by South African playwright, Athol Fugard.
The Shadow of the Hummingbird follows an old man and his grandson over a two-day window of time. The old man is trying to keep his grandson’s innocence alive, even though he and his son had a falling-out over philosophical differences. He ties in Plato’s tale of the cave with the hummingbird shadows he sees on his living room walls as a way to plead with his son over intellectual curiosity and imagination. The play is brief, but packed with lots of dialogue and monologues, with rich ideas being thrown back and forth.
I would bet this play presents great on stage. I have not yet been able to track down a televised presentation, but I may have to deep-dive. Either way, I think this is a great play for college students to read. It’s a short read, it involves a common story, and it breaks down a family relationship with a small cast that really allows you to dig deep with the characters and their motivations. I’ll definitely be looking at Fugard’s body of work as a larger whole.
Cross-posted to my blog.