Heidi Trautmann

551 - ADA – The Island – For Justice and Freedom – a play by South African playwright Athol Fugard,

 adapted by Yasar Ersoy


The Theatre Festival contribution by the Nicosia Municipality Theatre


By Heidi Trautmann


 I am proud to be what I am …
The storm of oppression will be followed
By the rain of my blood

I am proud to give my life

My one solitary life.

Benjamin Moloise 1985


A verse written by the South African poet shortly before his death in October 1985 when he was hanged by the apartheid government for having murdered a policeman, an accusation which is believed to be fabricated. The time of apartheid 1948 - 1994.

Athol Fugard organized multiracial theatre, writing, producing and acting; in 1962 he started publicly to support the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The play The Island was first performed in 1973 under a different name. The script is based on true stories, stories that were heard from prisoners on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was kept prisoner for 24 years.

It was extremely dangerous for the writer as well as the actors so they had nothing written which could serve as proof. The actors were improvising in front of their audience, the main contents disguised by the inclusion of the Greek political drama Antigone, the fight for human values and against political injustice. I have read the interview with John Kani and Winston Ntshona, the first actors in The Island about their first tentative steps and the problems they encountered.


In 1988 the Nicosia Municipality Theatre had brought out the play with the actors Osman Alkaş and Erol Refikoğlu, and now, in 2013, 25 years later, Yaşar Ersoy has adapted the play for two women to take the roles of revolutionaries kept prisoners - with Özgür Oktay and Döndü Özata - in the prison of an island. But let me start from the beginning…...

It was the second performance of the play although I had heard about the rehearsals from time to time and I was very anxious to see the two excellent actresses in the roles of the prisoners. I entered the auditorium and found myself en face of two sculptures by Sevcan Çerkez, representing the two female prisoners, the likelihood was great. I had seen them in production. Life size figures hanging with their arms chained to a beam. The black curtain was lifted and in the same pose the two protagonists were taking over; it was a surprise effect. Well done. In the centre of the stage was The Island, the cell where the two women lived, the one soon to be released, the other one sentenced for life. They share everything, tend their wounds, wake and sleep, recount their stories, and listen to the ongoings outside, frightened….and in-between start to talk and rehearse Antigone, talk about rights and injustice, about friendship and about life and freedom: when does your human conscience allow to be disobedient to the State, the basic outline of the Antigone play. A play within a play.

Özgür and Döndü put in all they got, passion, body and soul, they were prisoners, desperate, foolish, falling into moods, caring, all the tunes were played and at the end when they performed Antigone and Creon in front of the prison’s audience, standing there, stretching to full height, they shouted: ‘Gods of Our Fathers! My Land! My Home! Time waits no longer. I go now to my living death, because I honoured those things to which honour belongs.'

And while the outcry reached the audience, the background came crashing down, and we saw ourselves in the mirror fragments, we saw ourselves as the audience of the prison.

Author: Athol Fugard; Translation: Yucel Erten; Stage adaption and directing: Yasar Ersoy; Dramaturg: Aliye Ummanel; Décor and Costumes: Özlem Yetkili; assistant director; Umut Ersoy;  sculptures: Sevcan Cerkez…


The play will be going on after the Theatre Festival as part of the new Season’s programme.




Özgür Oktay and Döndü Özata
Özgür Oktay and Döndü Özata

Sculptures by Sevcan Cerkez
Sculptures by Sevcan Cerkez

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