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Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago Founder and Director Darryl Maximilian Robinson won a 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Award as Outstanding Actor In A Principal Role In A Play for his critically-praised performance as Sam Semela in the great Athol Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" at The Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre in The Windy City. Photo by J. L. Watt.

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The briilant South African actor Zakes Mokae, who survived apartheid, won a 1982 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor In A Play for his moving performance as Sam Semela in "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" on Broadway.

Darryl Maximilian Robinson won both a 1997 Joseph Jefferson Citation Best Actor Award and a 1997 Chicago Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination as Best Leading Actor In A Play for Master Harold And The Boys.

YOU CAN'T FLY KITES ON RAINY DAYS: Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago Founder and Director Darryl Maximilian Robinson as Sam Semela in the ESC's 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Best Production Award-nominated revival of the great South African playwright Athol Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" staged by Mr. Robinson at The Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre in The Windy City. Mr. Robinson was honored with both a 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Award as Outstanding Actor In A Principal Role In A Play and a 1997 Chicago Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination as Best Leading Actor In A Play for his performance as Sam Semela. In addition to Mr. Robinson, the cast featured Kevin Heckman ( and later, Kevin Adair ) as Hally and Gregory Christopher "Word Jazzman" Armstrong ( and later, Eliyahu Miller ) as Willie. ESC "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" Archival Photo by Jeff Helgeson.

Gary info review of Darryl Maximilian Robinson's staging of Fugard's Master Harold And The Boys.

1997 Gary Info Theatre Review of The Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago's revival staging of Athol Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" at The Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre in The Windy City by Al Boswell.

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The acclaimed and great South African playwright Athol Fugard, who captured two 1982 Tony Award Nominations including Best Play and Best Director of A Play for his brilliant original production of his "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" on Broadway.

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1993 Intermission Magazine Theatre Review of the Excaliber Productions, Ltd. staging of Athol Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" at The Wabash Triangle Cafe of St. Louis by Lorna A. Vaughn.

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1997 Chicago Defender Theatre Review of The Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago's revival production of Athol Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS" at The Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre in The Windy City by Earl Calloway.

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In two of the finest moments in his 43-season theatre career Darryl Maximilian Robinson ( Founder of both Excaliber Productions, Ltd. in St. Louis and The Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago ) has been blessed to direct and appear in the role of Sam Semela in the great South African Playwright Athol Fugard's anti-apartheid dramatic masterpiece "MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS." The first staging occured in The Gateway City at The Wabash Triangle Cafe. In addition to Mr. Robinson, the cast featured Philip Watt as Hally and Carey S. Means as Willie. The second revival of Fugard's acclaimed work happened in Chicago at The Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre. Joining Mr. Robinson for that production onstage were Kevin Heckman ( and later in the run Kevin Adair ) as Hally and Gregory Christopher "Word Jazzman" Armstrong ( and later in the run Eliyahu Miller ) as Willie. Both productions were well-received and garnered critical praise. However, in the case of the Chicago production, The ESC captured multiple theatre award nominations including: a 1997 Joseph Jefferson Citation Award Nomination for Outstanding Production of the Year ( for The ESC ) a 1997 Joseph Jefferson Citation Award Nomination for Outstanding Actor In A Principal Role In A Play ( for Mr. Robinson ), a 1997 Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination for Best Leading Actor In A Play ( for Mr. Robinson ) and a 1997 Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination for Best Sound Design ( bestowed upon Mr. Robinson and Jeff Helgeson ). Of all of the nominations, The ESC revival of Fugard's play received only one win: Mr. Robinson won a 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Award as Outstanding Actor In A Principal Role In A Play for his performance as Sam Semela.

An acclaimed 1982 Tony Award-nominated Best Play by the great and noted South African playwright Athol Fugard, ( who also earned a Tony Award nomination as Best Director of A Play ) "Master Harold"... and the boys is an emotionally-searing one-act play about racism. It is also an exercise in Minimalism: it involves only three actors, a restaurant, and a black man's ass. It's St. George's Park Tea Room in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, during The Apartheid Era. Two black servers, Sam and Willie, are hanging around waiting for something to happen; they practice ballroom dancing in the meantime, as both are competing in two weeks. The problem is, Willie's partner Hilda can't learn the steps right, so Willie beats her. (Well, she may also be sleeping around.) Sam is a better dancer, and Willie's speech is rendered in a "You No Take Candle" Funetik Aksent. The sevteen-year-old son of the (white) restaurant owners enters. Sam calls him "Hally", Willie "Master Harold." Hally, like many teenagers, thinks he knows everything, but as he chats with "the boys" it becomes clear that he takes the White Man's Burden seriously as well, belittling them constantly (though generally without malice). This despite the fact that Sam has become a bit of a father surrogate for Hally, whose actual father is a bitter drunk who lost his leg during the war. Attention is drawn to a heartwarming occasion when Hally was young, in which Sam built him a kite and taught him to fly it. Hally sets out to do his homework, a 500-word English composition on an event of cultural significance, and becomes enamored with Sam's discussion of ballroom dancing, describing it as "a world without collisions." But before Hally can set pencil to paper, the phone rings. It's Hally's mother. His father went to the hospital a while ago for pains relating to his injury, but since then has decided to return. Before anybody can stop him, he's ensconced in his bedroom, and Hally can look forward to his home life becoming a living hell. In his fury, he turns on Sam, shouting whatever comes to mind: "[My father]'s a white man and that's good enough for you." Vitriol ensues. One messy argument later, Sam hearkens back to the tale of the kite, which Master Harold had considered using for his English composition but rejected because it lacked a Twist Ending. Sam tells him what he forgot: that a few days before, the city authorities had called Harold's mother to come pick up her husband, who was drunk on the floor at the hotel bar. Their little boy Hally was the other one home, and he had to bring a black servant, Sam, to help with the pickup. Hally walked through life humiliated from then on... until Sam put a kite in the air and a smile on his face. Hally sat on a bench and watched it fly... But Sam couldn't, because the bench was "Whites Only." As the play ends, Master Harold goes back to his cold home with a bottle of brandy for his father, but Willie promises to find Hilda and apologize to her. At the very least, check out some of the talent that has been drawn to it over the years. Hally was originated by Zeljko Ivanek, played in a Made for TV Movie by Matthew Broderick, and in a 2010 movie release by Freddie Highmore. Sam was originated by Zakes Mokai ( who captured a 1982 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor In A Play ) and, opposite Highmore, portrayed by Ving Rhames. And the original Willie? Danny Glover. ----

This play provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Dumbass Has a Point: Willie provides the voice of reason during Sam and Hally's argument. In-universe, Hally treats most insights from the two black men this way.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hally asks, more than once, why Sam doesn't call him "Master Harold." After the argument, Sam does, symbolizing the damage their friendship has suffered.
"[My dad]'s got a marvelous sense of humor. Want to know what our favorite joke is? He gives out a big groan, you see, and says: "It's not fair, is it, Hally?" Then I have to ask, "What, chum?" And then he says: "A nigger's arse"... and we both have a good laugh."
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