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Interchange – The Stones of Reason: Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!

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Direct action and reform politics meet in Apartheid South Africa in playwright Athol Fugard’s 1989 play My Children! My Africa! Within the ruling class, apartheid violence of white South Africa sits a play with a seeming taste for moderation and order in debate, and the recognition of the political uses of speech. But the debate is not just between the obvious: black and white, powerful and powerless, privileged and impoverished. It’s also between old and young, tradition and revolution, male and female, private and public, talk and action.

Our show is in two parts:
Part one centers on a local production of Fugard’s play directed by Indiana University professor Murray McGibbon set to open on April 27th. I’ll speak with McGibbon, who is South African, about his assertion that “The play is a plea for education over violence, and thoughtful consideration rather than hotheadedness.” We’re also joined by Tara Chiusano, who plays Isabelle, and Yusuf Agunbiade, who plays Thami.

For Part Two I’m joined by Michelle Moyd, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University and Associate Director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society. Our discussion works to apply Fugard’s play to the US and in particular to discussions of the liberal humanism of university education and a concern about collaborating with the oppressor within institutional walls.

Our opening song is Johnny Dyani’s “Song for Biko” off of the 1979 album of the same name–all of the music in the show will be feature Dyani.

Johnny Dyani, double bassist and pianist, was born and grew up in Duncan Village, a township of the South African city of East London. In the early 1960s, he was a member of South Africa’s first integrated jazz band, The Blue Notes. In 1964, the band fled South Africa to seek musical and political freedom. “Song for Biko” refers to Stephen Biko, the South African anti-apartheid activist, African nationalist and African socialist who, in 1977, was tortured, beaten, and murdered by state security services at Walmer Police Station in Port Elizabeth.

GUESTS
Director Murray McGibbon, currently a professor of acting and directing at Indiana University, also hails from South Africa, and has enjoyed a rich international career. For six years, he served as artistic director for the Playhouse Company in Durban, and directed 40 productions with the theatre during his tenure. Though a lifelong fan of Fugard, this will be the first time McGibbon tackles My Children! My Africa!.

Tara Chiusano (Isabelle) is a second year Acting M.F.A. student at IU.

Yusuf Agunbiade is a recent graduate of Indiana University.

Michelle Moyd is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University and Associate Director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society. She is the author of Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa.

RELATED
Behind the Curtain: ‘My Children! My Africa!’ by Jennifer Pacenza
Bantu Education
Overcoming Apartheid Policies Yesterday and Today: An Interview with a Former Bantu Education Student and Present-Day Activist

MUSIC
Johnny Dyani
“Song For Biko”
“We Will Be Together”
“Blame It On the Boers”
“Jo’burg-New York”
“Heart With a Minor’s Face”

NEXT TIME
“Pred Ed” – The Predatory Practices of Diploma Mills
The most significant shift in higher education over the past two decades has been the emergence of for-profit colleges and universities. These online and storefront institutions lure students with promises of fast degrees and “guaranteed” job placement, but what they deliver is often something quite different. Author A. J. Angulo joins us to discuss the remarkable and often sordid story of these “diploma mills,” which target low-income and nontraditional students while scooping up a disproportionate amount of federal student aid. These FPCU’s are the credit default swaps and the subprime loans of the Education Industry.

CREDITS
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Jennifer Brooks
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

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