The Director Who Breaks Silence

Raised in Apartheid-era South Africa, director and playwright Yaël Farber explains the power and pitfalls of documenting injustice on stage.

Yaël Farber
Photo by Daniel Hambury / Image by Victor Lim
Yaël Farber
Photo by Daniel Hambury / Image by Victor Lim

The Director Who Breaks Silence

Raised in Apartheid-era South Africa, director and playwright Yaël Farber explains the power and pitfalls of documenting injustice on stage.

Yaël Farber grew up in South Africa during Apartheid, an era when the country’s white minority government racially segregated and brutalized Black South Africans. Farber, a white woman, said the cognitive dissonance she experienced “turned into a clarity and a rage.”

Today, she’s one of the world’s more respected stage directors and playwrights. She’s responsible for a number of acclaimed revivals (including Hamlet and The Crucible) as well as original plays documenting oppression during the Apartheid era. She also wrote and directed a shattering production called Nirbhaya, based on the true story of a violent gang rape in India in 2012.

Farber tells Art of Power host Aarti Shahani about why she chose theater as a way to shine light on injustice. An empath and a truth-teller, Farber understands something a lot of us want to understand: how to get people to care.

A warning: this episode contains an explicit description of rape and is not suitable for younger listeners.