Abraham clarifies the Fugard Theatre situation
The Isango Portobello company ended its run of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town last Saturday night.
Barring four members the entire cast were under contract until November 21st and all have been paid up to this date. As with the company’s previous production, Aesop’s Fables, the box office receipts for this show was approximately 20%. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists cost upwards of R600 000 to stage and secured an income of R143 000. No other productions featuring the company are scheduled to take place.
The action I took in securing The Fugard today was regrettable and a last resort following protracted and unsuccessful negotiations over many months with the director and head of the acting company Mr Mark Dornford-May. It was taken following the discovery of certain financial irregularities that have taken place and which are currently being investigated. Throughout this period I have paid all costs in respect of the company and the theatre.
To date I have been the sole under-writer of the Isango Portobello acting company over the last four years at a cost of more than R30m from my own personal resources. Furthermore I underwrote the building of The Fugard Theatre at a cost of approximately R20m. In addition I and my staff in London have over these years invested a considerable amount of time in producing and supporting the group.
I have never anticipated nor received a commercial return from the Isango Portobello company. It has been an act of cultural philanthropy in which I have sought to affirm and empower a group of black artists. The only return I sought was self-reliance and sustainability.
It is inaccurate and defamatory to assert that I have benefited in any way commercially from the activities of the Isango Portobello company. Our lawyers are examining certain statements that have been made to this effect and the unauthorised use of The Fugard database by certain employees.
The theatre remains open for future productions and is, as was always intended, for all.
Issued by Eric Abraham, London, 22 November.
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Eric Abraham / The Fugard Theatre