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The Road to Mecca

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  283 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
A South African pastor and a young teacher from Cape Town battle over the fate of an eccentric elderly widow.
Paperback, 80 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Theatre Communications Group (first published 1985)
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Sep 17, 2008 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
Fugard, Athol. THE ROAD TO MECCA. (1985). ****. This play by Fugard is set in South Africa in the region known as the Karoo. It tells the story of an elderly woman who has spent years since her husband’s death transforming her home in this isolated town into an intricate and dazzling work of art. Unfortunately, the other members of her community don’t view it the same way. To them, it is a departure from the customary way of living. Statues in the front lawn depicting fanciful creatures and owls ...more
John David
Apr 22, 2012 John David rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
Helen, whose husband’s death has caused her to stave off various bouts of depression and battles with, to use her word, “darkness,” has recently re-discovered her gift for sculpture. Her back yard – which Helen calls her Mecca - is full of bright, colorful, life-sized figures of biblical wise men, birds, and anything else her imagination encourages her to make. One of Helen’s only remaining friends, Elsa, pays her a surprise visit from Cape Town. During their discussion, Helen mentions that the ...more
May 18, 2016 Kath rated it liked it
I mistook this for another book called The Road to Mecca, but since it was a play, I read it anyway. The story takes place in Nieu Bethesda, South Africa, and is about the final days of a South African folk artist named Helen Martins as she welcomes a friend from Cape Town, and they, along with the village pastor, discuss the possibility of her moving to a nursing home. The play has been performed on Broadway, I think, at a time when America was just becoming conscious of the issue of Apartheid. ...more
Mar 14, 2016 Mamma*Gotta*Read rated it liked it
This is not a novel, it is a play script that involves 3 characters. Although the main character of the play was inspired by the real artist Helen Martins, the other two characters are fictional.

The main character is Miss Helen, an elderly widow, who lives in a tiny village called New Bethesda in the Karoo, South Africa. She is viewed by the local community as a crazy recluse, and spends her days creating sculptures and artwork that decorates her garden and house.

Elsa is a young woman from Cape
James F
Feb 04, 2015 James F rated it really liked it
Another powerful play by Athol Fugard; two acts, three characters. This is about two women, a seventy year old widow from a small town and her young schoolteacher friend from Port Elizabeth. The third character is the widow's minister. The play deals with many different issues, more about personal choices and personal freedom than politics this time (except in the sense that everything is political.) I can't summarize it without spoilers. Despite the title, it is not about Moslems or even religi ...more
Dec 23, 2012 Mom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful play. It was reccommended to me by Kat.
a friend of hers in Madison is doing the play there.

Basically, the story of one woman's search for enlightenment (Mecca) through her art. It's based on a true story. Helen did exist. She lived in South Africa and the playwright who bought a home in the town she lived in became fascinated with her story.

It's also a movie which Kathy Bates did in 1992. If I can find it I'm going to buy it.
Sep 07, 2010 Dylan rated it liked it
A touching statement on the roles which faith and creativity play in the endurance of the human spirit. This was the second Fugard play that I read, and was once again astounded by his command of character and realistic dialogue. Through his telling of Helen's story (the seemingly 'crazy' yet wildly imaginative old woman at the center of the story)we are shown a remarkably important moment in the lives of several people.
Sep 12, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
A play that is mostly just two women that isn't about rape or men or stereotypical 2 women play things! My heart is rejoicing. This play is beautiful and touching and infuriating and boy was I invested! It has some really meaty roles to dig into. Women: 28 yr old character with amazing monologue prospects in here. Seriously! I think I might add this to the plays I want to direct list...
Felicia Change
This was a very interesting play. I liked the fact that Miss Helen existed in real life. It gives the play a more believable and enjoyable feel to it.

Favourite Quotes:

"He came up with a postures of despair that would have made Michelangelo jealous." p. 30

"A true friendship should be able to accommodate a difference of opinion."p. 52
Thing Two
Very short but moving play set in 1970s South Africa and centered around the struggles of one woman - Miss Helen - as she's pulled in two differing directions by the two closest people to her. It's man vs. woman, young vs. old, religious vs. secular with a world vision beyond her small town. I saw the play and cried - very moving.
Cate Coen
Feb 14, 2016 Cate Coen rated it it was amazing
Powerful, moving play about (amongst other things) creativity, freedom and the courage to live according to your own vision. As well as the price that an individual all too often pays for daring to be different. Beautiful.
Virginia Morgan
May 13, 2014 Virginia Morgan rated it liked it
This play quickly brings together some large themes- racial inequality, religious beliefs, female relationships - in a South African historical setting. It's a quick read but did not inspire me.
Mar 24, 2015 Tess rated it liked it
Shelves: books-for-school

I don't know how much I would've liked seeing this play, maybe if it was done very well, but I absolutely enjoyed reading it. It's very heart warming and beautifully worded.
Adrienne Parker
Oct 15, 2015 Adrienne Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I had to read this book for my English Lit studies and I am totally blown away by the story.
I now just need to sit and think about it a bit.
Jun 08, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
A very interesting play. It starts off kind of slow, put picks up enough steam a couple of pages in that it becomes very good. I recomend it.
Apr 01, 2009 Alyssa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alyssa by: Professor Bloom
Shelves: school
I enjoyed this much more than i anticipated. I'm glad I chose to read it through once first before I have to dissect it for class. :)
Nerine Dorman
Dec 23, 2014 Nerine Dorman rated it it was amazing
This has lost none of the impact it had when I was at school. Seems fitting that this is set work for my degree modules.
Zuki Bolani Buthelezi
Couldnt put the book down. The story is engrossing and so poetic. Athol Furgard is a literal genius forever and day!
Mar 21, 2016 Goretti rated it it was amazing
enjoyed the journey to Nieu Bethesda with learners from Camps Bay in the wake of the teaching of this play.
Jul 08, 2007 Lois rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: True literature lovers
Shelves: lobagsbooks
This is good. Read it. It is too long to explain so go to Amazon and read the summary and reviews.
Nov 21, 2008 Latha rated it liked it
Recommended to Latha by: My husband
This is a play. It was a different type of thing for me to read.l
Juliana Hanford
Sep 06, 2012 Juliana Hanford rated it it was amazing
There aren't enough stars in the world for this.
Zama Zungu
Favourite Play of all Time...Shake who?
Mar 29, 2007 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Ah, the unfortunately named Athol.
Madiha Noor
Oct 04, 2016 Madiha Noor rated it liked it
My rating: 3.5/5

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Minenhle Khumalo
Aug 22, 2016 Minenhle Khumalo rated it really liked it
Beautiful play. Inspiring.
Jude marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2016
Cassey rated it really liked it
Oct 17, 2016
Farrukh Abdullah
Farrukh Abdullah marked it as to-read
Oct 16, 2016
Anacleto Abreu
Anacleto Abreu marked it as to-read
Oct 16, 2016
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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 about Athol Fugard...

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