The Bram Frischer Waltz


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Although widely known as the Afrikaner Communist who saved Nelson Mandela from the gallows, very little is known about Bram Fischer the man. Fischer was a respected Senior Advocate at the Johannesburg Bar who chose to side with the oppressed and went underground to join the armed struggle. He was arrested on 5 November 1965 after almost 10 months on the run. ‘I owed it to the political prisoners, to the banished, to the silenced and to those under house arrest not to remain a spectator, but to act.’
These words spoken by Bram Fischer in his statement from the dock during his treason trial were followed by a life sentence. Scion of a proudly Afrikaner family that included a prime minister and a judge president of the Orange Free State, he would seem to be an unlikely hero of the liberation movement. Uncompromising in his political beliefs and driven by an unshakeable integrity and a commitment to the dream of a non-racial democracy, Fischer was also humorous, fun-loving and a family man, devoted to his wife and children.
The many facets of this remarkable man are refl ected in The Bram Fischer Waltz, Harry Kalmer’s lyrical tribute. A brief and intense work, with the protagonist as narrator, this one person play takes the audience through a roller coaster of emotions as it tells Fischer’s story.
The play won The Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award when it premiered in English at 2013 the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and was awarded the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts in 2014 .
The text is supplemented by a foreword by Adv George Bizos and an introduction by the playwright, reflecting on the path that led him to write the play, and an afterword by Yvonne Malan, entitled ‘The Power of Moral Courage’.