A Place with the Pigs by Athol Fugard

Based on an absurd but true story, this poignant and sometimes hilarious tale is about a Russian soldier who deserted during World War II and spent ten years hiding in his pigsty. As the play begins, Pavel Ivanovitch is preparing to rejoin the world and throw himself on the mercy of his countrymen, but his wife has used his old uniform for rags and refuses to wear the suit she has pressed. Instead, she goes alone to the ceremony to unveil a monument to the war dead and returns reporting that the townspeople wept at the mention of him and his martyr’s death fighting fascism. Also, a local bigwig proposed to her now that she is officially a widow. What should she do? Will Pavel Ivanovitch ever be able to leave the pigsty, or is it his only safe haven?

A Place with the Pigs by Athol Fugard
directed by Laylah Muran de Assereto
10/8/2017 6pm @ Stagewerx | 446 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Karl Schackne and Genevieve Perdue, with Jason Jeremy

Athol Fugard, best known for Road to Mecca, Blood Knot, and Master Harold and the Boys, has a prolific career as playwright, author, actor, and director.  He has written over 20 plays from 1956’s Klaas and the Devil to 2016’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. And while most of his plays have taken place in South Africa, about every decade he veers into other regions of the world.  A Place with the Pigs: a personal parable, premiered in 1987 at Yale University with, we’ll be honest, not great reviews.  Scholars think that the lukewarm reception was in part due to how out of the norm of his expected oeuvre the work was, in addition to the material itself, as well as the playwright’s decision to direct and star in the production. While critics look for analogies to South Africa, Athol says he wrote it as a parable for alcoholism. What drew me to the play was the self-inflicted and self-destructive nature of Pavel’s plight, the squirrelly language he uses to justify his cowardice, and the Chekovian wry humor. I easily see connections to the fear and guilt-fueled pathology of living in a totalitarian regime, the madness of feeding an addiction, as well as the constant self-doubt and second guessing that seems to plague our society today. Are the pigs symbolic of the proletariat, the bourgeois, the drug, or of human complacency? This isn’t a perfect play, it has issues, it can be uncomfortable in places, it’s figuratively and literally messy, but, then again, so is life.


Athol Fugard (playwright) is an internationally acclaimed South African playwright, director, and actor whose best-known work deals with the political and social upheaval of the apartheid system in South Africa since the mid-50s. He was educated at the University of Cape Town. His plays include Master Harold and the Boys, The Blood Knot, My Children! My AfricaA Lesson from Aloes, The Island, and the award-winning Sizwe Banzi is Dead. He is also the author of the novel Tsotsi, which was made into an Academy Award winning film. Mr. Fugard has received six honorary degrees from esteemed colleges and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His plays have been produced on Broadway as well as at major theaters around the world.

Laylah Muran de Assereto (Director/Sound Designer/Artwork) was a board member with the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco (PCSF) from 2005-2009. Laylah was the Executive Producer for Wily West Productions (2009-2015), presenting several award winning, nominated, and critically acclaimed productions of new works. Her directing credits include, PCSF’s PLAYOFFS 2016 which won a TBA Outstanding Anthology award, ReproRights! (2015-2017), SF Olympians Festival VII, and PCSF’s Sheherezade’s Last Tales (2015). Laylah performed Celia in Talking Heads by Alan Bennett, directed by Stephen Drewes for Spare Stage in 2016. See www.laylahmuran.co for full bio.

Karl Schackne (Pavel) is an actor & playwright raised in the Bay Area. Among his favorite roles since he began acting in 2009 are Barnaby in Much Ado About Lebowski (Primitive Screwheads), Schultz in Circle Mirror Transformation (City College of SF), Dr. Fine in Six Degrees of Separation (Custom Made), and Glyndwr in Spell Eternity (Quantum Dragon). His plays include three collaborations with Wily West Productions: Superheroes, Zero Hour: The Mars Experiment, and I Saw It, and his short play Age Old Wisdom was a finalist in 2016’s ShortLived Festival.

Genevieve Perdue (Praskovya) was most recently seen as Marzanna in Spell Eternity (Quantum Dragon). Other recent credits include Louisa Kitteridge in Six Degrees of Separation (Custom Made) and Mademoiselle Reisz in the Awakening (Breadbox Theatre).  Genevieve is also a Wily West Productions company member where she has credits in acting, painting, propping and costuming. She played Dr. Diana Stevensen in Wily West’s collaboratively developed monologue show I Saw It. Other roles include First Wife Mara in Dominion (At Last Productions); Marty in Circle Mirror Transformation and Raymonde Chandebisse in A Fle in Her Ear (CCSF); as well as roles in San Francisco’s Theatre Pub, the SF Olympians Festival and various reading series throughout the Bay Area.

Jason Jeremy (Stage Directions) is an actor and sound designer, getting his start in radio plays in his teen years as a sound engineer for KOPN Radio’s Lullaby of Broadway, Inside Radio kids’ workshops, and the annual Midwest Radio Theater Workshop. Most recently, Jason designed sound for Ex Nihilo’s six-part radio play series Terra Incognita, which was recorded live at Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, and for Wily West’s productions of Unhinged and Drowning Kate. Jason performed in PCSF’s annual short play festival Sheherezade from 2006 through 2009 and 2014, and he designed sound for Sheherezade in 2010 and 2012. He is a founding member of Wily West Productions and performed numerous roles for them including Pingta in The Widow West, The Mighty Magora in Maidrid’s Bow, Cosimo in Zero Hour, and various roles in San Francisco Stories and I Saw It.

Ted Hlavac (Board Operator) Ted’s experience in theater began with a stint as stage manager for Spare Stage’s 2008 production of Stephen Dietz’s Private Eyes. He has been involved in every subsequent show in various capacities: stage manager (Here), production manager (The Unexpected Man revival), board operator (Here), assistant to the director (The Unexpected Man, A Body Of Water), sound designer (The Breath Of Life, The Unexpected Man revival, Oleanna, Talking Heads), and gopher.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s