Athol Fugard's My Children! My Africa!, With Music By Bobby McFerrin, Opens Off-Broadway May 24

By Kenneth Jones
24 May 2012

Stephen Tyrone Williams
Stephen Tyrone Williams
Photo by Joan Marcus

Signature Theatre's new production of Athol Fugard's My Children! My Africa!, the tale of race and achievement, teachers and students, freedom and apartheid — featuring new music by ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin, of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" fame — opens May 24 following previews from May 1 under the direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

The tale of young South Africans testing their voices in a time of political unrest continues to June 10 in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center on West 42nd Street.

"In a classroom in a small Eastern Cape Karoo town in South Africa in 1984," according to Signature notes, "Mr. M, an idealistic teacher, seeks to provide a future for his gifted student Thami by forming a debate team with Isabel, a spirited student from the local white school. But outside the classroom Mr. M's hopes for Thami are challenged by their generational divide and increasing political unrest. Written in 1989 shortly before the end of apartheid, [it] presents an honest and unflinching portrait of a country on the brink of revolution, and is a testament to the power and potential of youth, hope, and ideas."

The cast includes Allison Gallerani (Off-Broadway debut) as Isabel, James A. Williams (Jitney) as Mr. M and Stephen Tyrone Williams (Burning) as Thami.



The production is part of Signature's 2011-12 Residency One slate, giving voice to South African playwright Athol Fugard as the "signature" playwright-in-residence. Blood Knot and The Train Driver are also being produced this season.

Fugard's plays also include No-Good Friday, Nongogo, Hello and Goodbye, People are Living There, Boesman and Lena, Statements After an Arrest, Under the Immorality Act, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Dimetos, The Island, A Lesson From Aloes, "Master Harold"…and the Boys, The Road to Mecca, A Place With the Pigs, Playland, Valley Song, The Captain's Tiger, Sorrows and Rejoicings, Exits and Entrances, Victory, Coming Home and The Bird Watchers.

The My Children! My Africa! design team includes Neil Patel (scenic designer), Karen Perry (costume designer), Marcus Doshi (lighting designer) and Robert Kaplowitz (sound designer). Dialect coaches are Ron Kunene and Barbara Rubin. Amanda Michaels is production stage manager. Casting is by Telsey + Company.

For ticket information visit signaturetheatre.org.