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"Master Harold"...and the boys

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  3,041 ratings  ·  132 reviews
The role that won Zakes Mokae a Tony Award brought Danny Glover back to the New York stage for the Roundabout Theatre's revival of this searing coming of age story, considered by many to be Fugard's masterpiece. A white teen who has grown up in the affectionate company of the two black waiters who work in his mother's tea room in Port Elizabeth learns that his viciously ra ...more
Paperback, Penguin Plays, 64 pages
Published November 1984 by Penguin Books (first published 1982)
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Kirsten
The impact of this play on me was so much more than expected. I was assigned to read this for English class, so of course I assumed this play would be just another unimportant, mandatory reading assignment. It was so much more than that. This play, set in South Africa during 1950, shows the raw, ugly truth of racism. That it is not just a word which means discrimination against a particular race, it is a thing that breaks friends, families, and societies apart. Hally, a young white man who strug ...more
Yehudah Tor
"Master Harold"... and the boys by Athol Fugard is a play and its first performance was in 1982. Taking place in Apartheid South Africa, the story revolves around two black men, Sam and Willie, and a seventeen year old boy named Hally A.K.A Master Harold. One of the story's major themes is racism.

Sam and Willie work for Hally's mother at her Tea Room (similar to a Cafe). One of the play's more powerful quotes is "He's a white man and that's good enough for you." When Sam and Hally argue, Hally m
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Kieran
Fugard manages to not only create a convincng domestic drama, but situates it incredibly well into the political milieu of the period in which he wrote.
His symbolism though understated is nevertheless powerful, and compelling events such as the kite flying scene are rightfully well known, not only for their metaphysical importance but also for the simplicity of the human drama that they convey.

The play is oblique at times, but all the more powerful as a result, as it focuses the audience or read
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Peter
”Master Harold” … and the boys is a short play, but there’s a lot of humanity crammed into it.

Set in a tea room in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, it shows us the relationship between three characters: Hallie, the seventeen year old white son of the tea room’s owners, and Sam and Willie, the two black employees who work there. All three are richly fleshed out; they are real in their faults and aspirations, and at different times we appreciate, sympathize with, and shake our heads at each of them.
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Ethan Olsen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Leaney
This is a powerful play about the damage of apartheid and the corrosive nature of shame. There is no "action" per se, all the dialogue takes place in one setting, the St. George's Park Tea Room, and is spoken by only three characters - two adult black men (Sam and Willie) who work at the tea room and the white seventeen-year-old son of the owner (Hally/Master Harold). It's 1950, and the relationship between the boy and the two men is impressively complicated. They, especially Sam, are the father ...more
James F
Possibly the best known of Fugard's plays, and the only one (and the only African play) I've actually seen performed, in Portland about twenty years ago.

This is a powerful play about apartheid, and racism in general (it could be reset in the U.S. any time between 1877 and the late 1960's without losing any of its effectiveness); without any scene changes, it takes place in one room in real time, with three characters, a 17 year old white boy named Hally (Master Harold) and two Black servants, Sa
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Kathy
This was an interesting read, not something that I would normally have picked up on my own. I read it w/ my son, Dylan, who read it for school. It's the story of a boy, Harold, who while growing up has 2 very unlikely friends in 2 black waiters, who work for his parents. But in the world of apartheid in South Africa, life can get in the way of the best of relationships. This book gave me alot to think about, and I think I will be thinking about it for some time to come.
Emily Bauernfeind
Hally: "Penicillian and Sir Alexander Fleming!...The major breakthrough in medical science in the Twentieth Century. If it wasn't for him, we might have lost the Second World War."

Hally: "Philosophers have been trying to do that for centuries. What is Art? What is life? But basically I suppose it's...the giving of meaning to matter."
Sam: "Nothing to do with beautiful?"
Mary
Had to read this for a theater class I am taking (an elective) and immediately loved it. The story is easy to follow and really has a lot of important lessons. It's scary that it was based on a time only 63 years ago. That's not so long ago when an African could not sit with on a bench with the white boy that he has practically raised. A very good story.
Sara
"Master Harold" is a seventeen-year-old white South African boy, still basically innocent in spite of his alcoholic, racist dad.

"The Boys" are middle-aged black men who work for Hally's family in their tea shop.

In the course of a single, rainy afternoon Hally straddles the line between the innocent boy he was and the man he is becoming. This play is a coming-of-age story that is unique in the way it addresses the question "What if the person you're becoming isn't who you want to be?"

In such a sh
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Lee Ann
My main problem with plays is that, even though, yes, every bit of dialogue bears weight, a lot of the time it feels like reading/watching small-talk. I don't care much about who the characters think is a "Man of Magnitude," or that time they flew a kite, even if those conversations are extremely important to their characterization. I don't like plays where people just sit around and reminisce and talk. It's boring.

That being said, I did like the dynamic between Harold and Sam. It made for inter
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Samantha Sorour
This play was so much more then I expected having read it for varsity it is not something I would normally read. The ideology in the drama and the hope one feels from the characters particularly Sam is truly touching. To truly understand the play it is important to read articles on the play. A lot of the power from the play comes from the fact that the story not including the ambiguous end is based on Fugard's childhood. Hally is actually a representation of Fugard himself. It is once one is pri ...more
Carmen
I have heard that Athol Fugard is one of the best playwrights of the 21st century but I have not read or seen one of his plays until “Master Harold…and the Boys” was prescribed for my English class.

At first, I could not understand why someone would write a story where nothing actually happens, but after some thought I could see why Fugard has credit as a playwright. The kite metaphor used in the play is certainly an accomplished metaphor because the play would not be much without.

The main thing
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Leanne

This is one of the most perfect plays I've had the pleasure of reading. The play follows Hally, a 17 year old white boy with a crippled, alcoholic father, substituted in his childhood by the other characters in the play: two black servants named Sam and Willie. Hally is an extremely accurately written 17 year old with privilege: he's clever, but not so clever as he believes, and a bit of a know it all. However, he's had his share of troubles, and is a deeply hurt child. Sam is extremely intellig

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Krystina Ramos
“’Master Harold’... and the boys” by Athol Fugard takes place in the St. George’s Tea Room in 1950s apartheid-stricken South Africa. The play centers on the personal and political relationship between a seventeen-year-old white boy named Hally and the middle aged black waiters, Sam and Willie. The longtime relationship goes all the way back to Sam’s first geography lesson at the old Jubilee Boarding House. Before the play reaches a more serious tone, the three characters are friendly with one an ...more
James
"Master Harold" and the boys is a short play that has an immense impact upon first reading. The playwright Athol Fugard manages to imagine a relationship between a boy and two Black servants in early 1950s in South Africa and make it become a universal experience that continues to resonate with readers in the Twenty-first century. I was impressed with the economy of words that were used to express multiple levels of feeling and meaning throughout the play. The culture of England, long the coloni ...more
Liz
This is very interesting and satisfying play about a privileged white teen and two black servants in South Africa having an extended conversation, and set during apartheid. There are some high points, beautiful imagery in a monologue about ballroom dancing and also ugly pugilistic behavior which is realistic for that time period. However, I dislike it when themes and morality are heavy handed. It's a good play but perhaps I would need to see it performed.
Emily Lewis
A tight, careful play -- not a word wasted. Funny at times, but mostly just poignant. There's a quietly unsettling pull of racism and classism and ignorance and intolerance throughout the play which explodes into a wrenching, angry finale. It's a story about the families we make for ourselves when we find our real ones lacking, but it asks the question of what happens when those found family members are not on equal footing.
Betty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Phillip
A fairly short but masterful drama set in Fugard's home country of South Africa in 1950. The plot is fairly straightforward with a cast of only three--Master Harold and the boys, as it were. While the play is not particularly action driven (it is set entirely in a single room and all three characters are on stage virtually the entire play) it tackles theoretical questions facing apartheid society and humanity in general. The characters are vivid and understandable, and the audience can really sy ...more
Patrick Mclean
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
Jul 17, 2015 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: right now, everyone who's reconsidering race relations in America
Recommended to Emily by: Liz
"Don't confuse historical significance with greatness."

"And it's beautiful because [dancing] is what we want life to be like. But instead, like you said, Hally, we're bumping into each other all the time. ... None of us know the steps and there's no music playing. And it doesn't stop with us. The whole world is doing it all the time. Open a newspaper and what do you read? America has bumped into Russia, England is bumping into India, rich man bumps into poor man. Those are big collisions, Hally.
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Juan David
Master Harold and the boys is yet another beautiful play about Apartheid South Africa. It revolves around the story of a young white boy Hally and his black friends Sam and Willie. The story is beautiful because it depicts the racial boundaries between these two groups and how this young boy is taught to despise individuals which he deems friends at first just because of their race.

The style is magnificent, not only because of the philosophical questions explored, but also because of the lesson
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Stephany
I'm giving this book a 3 because it was so much better up on its feet, as a performed production. I first saw this play produced at Triad Stage and I was transfixed. A burgeoning theatre nerd, I had several reservations when I walked into the house after reading the warning sign posted next to the usher. "This production contains nudity. There is no intermission." What was I getting myself into? I don't think I'm going to enjoy this…

I was wrong. This hour-and-change production held my focus thro
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Mary
Loved the very special relationship between Sam and Hally, especially how Sam really cares for Hally despite everything. Also a very enjoyable commentary on Apartheid. Definitely worth the hour it will probably take to read it (it's very small; my copy was only sixty pages).
David Yoon
"Master Harold... and the boys" is a novel portraying the story of two black men and a white boy. The novel is about a boy growing up in a racist society where whites look down upon the blacks. As the story goes on placed in the boy's parents' store, Harold also known as Hally, the White South African boy, struggles to find his own identity. Oblivious and confused, Hally in the novel is influenced by both his fellows whites in his society and his black servant or friend, Sam. The author uses the ...more
Sandy Hughes
Clumsy attempts at Dialect, characterization, especially of Hally seems contrived and cliched (currently on pp.30-31); I assume the characterization is going to be inverted/subverted somehow, or at least transformed;
Tess
I really liked this play.
I was reading this for my World Lit class, it's something I never would've chosen myself and while I give it a 4/5 stars, it's not something I probably would've ever just picked up for pleasure.
There was brilliant writing in this play along with immensely powerful emotion. I really liked Road to Mecca, also by Fugard. I felt involved with the conflict and overall it was a pleasant read for school.
If I was rating it purely based on enjoyment factor, as if it were just a b
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Jess
I wrote a longer review but it got deleted, and I don't have the energy to rewrite it:

So basically, this is an important play because it talks about the prevalence of racism after the laws have been changed. Equality doesn't appear with the signing of a bill and racism still exists, as well as classism and the entitlement of the white patriarchy. More people should read this play and it should be in every high school classroom.

Only problem- I hated the character Hally and I hated reading about h
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Goodreads Librari...: First publication date 3 24 Feb 28, 2013 06:00AM  
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Harold Athol Lannigan Fugard (b. June 11, 1932, Middelburg, South Africa), better known as Athol Fugard, is a South African playwright, actor, and director. His wife, Sheila Fugard, and their daughter, Lisa Fugard, are also writers.

Athol Fugard was born of an Irish Roman Catholic father and an Afrikaner mother. He considers himself an Afrikaner, but writes in English to reach a larger audience. Hi
...more
More about Athol Fugard...
Tsotsi My Children! My Africa! (TCG Edition) The Road to Mecca Sizwe Bansi is Dead & The Island Statements

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“Anybody who thinks there's nothing wrong with this world needs to have his head examined. Just when things are going all right, without fail someone or something will come along and spoil everything. Somebody should write that down as a fundamental law of the Universe. The principle of perpetual disappointment. If there is a God who created this world, he should scrap it and try again.” 29 likes
“Those are big collisions, Hally. They make for a lot of bruises. People get hurt in all that bumping, and we're sick and tired of it now. It's been going on for too long. Are we never going to get it right?...Learn to dance life like champions instead of always being just a bunch of beginners at it?” 6 likes
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