When playwright Athol Fugard wrote his drama "My Children, My Africa," he did it to save his country. It was 1985. The apartheid laws that denied freedom to blacks were fueling riots, boycotts and demonstrations across South Africa. Worried that his country would never see peace, Fugard wrote the play in hopes that the polarization between blacks and whites would end.
Leonard Stephenson and Mixed Company will bring "My Children, My Africa" to the Knickerbocker Theatre at Hope College on Wednesday-Thursday, Jan. 30-31 at 8 p.m. through Hope College's Great Performance Series.
Based on real events, "My Children, My Africa" tells the story of a teacher's attempt to bring understanding between two of his students. The teacher, Mr. M, arranges a debate between Isabel, a middle class white girl, and Thami, a black boy who grew up in the Coketown ghetto. Their journey toward understanding each other brings acceptance, but not without pain and tragedy along the way. Stephenson, who plays Mr. M, has been acting since age eight, when he made his debut performing with Harry Belafonte.
Since then, he has had recurring roles on "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "MacGyver" and "Santa Barbara," as well as a successful theatre career.
The drama, best described as a tragedy, may be overwhelming at times for elementary age children, although it is appropriate for middle and high school students. Tickets will be available beginning Friday, Jan. 25, and may be obtained by calling the Hope College Ticket Office at (616) 395-7890.
Tickets are $14 for regular adult admission, $12 for senior citizens, and $5 for children under 18. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and is in the theatre lobby of the DeWitt Center, which is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. 8th St.