Over fifty teachers and educationists from across South Africa will gather at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town this weekend to explore new possibilities for Shakespearean encounters in South Africa’s classrooms. Here’s what’s happening:
Earlier this week you may have seen various posts and news items about “Shakespeare Day”: the 23rd of April is the day on which, according to tradition, Shakespeare was born and - coincidentally - died. (Not the SAME day … you know what we mean. RIP Will Shax, 1564-1616, etc.)
In South Africa, people have marked the anniversary with lectures, lunches, dress-up days at schools and more. Here at Shakespeare ZA, we haven’t had time to get into all the “Bard’s Birthday” stuff ... we’re saving our celebrations for next month, and looking forward (somewhat frantically) to a week in the middle of May that is going to be a highlight - a turning point? a cornerstone? a watershed? an historic moment? - or, at least, a significant plot twist in the unfolding story of Shakespeare in SA.
The Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa will be hosting its triennial congress in Cape Town from 11-18 May. There will be three events:
“my shakespeare” is a workshop for teachers at the Baxter Theatre (11-12 May)
“Making Shakespeare” is a platform for theatre-makers at the Fugard Theatre (15-16 May)
“Shakespeare and Social Justice” is an academic conference at the Fugard Theatre (16-18 May)
You can read more, and download programmes for each of these events, by following the links above.
Or you can listen to this short interview on Kaya FM with president of the Shakespeare Society, Chris Thurman, who spoke to Kaya Bizz host Gugulethu Mfuphi about the concept behind “Making Shakespeare my shakespeare”.
Finally, we want to take a moment to amplify that brief “shout-out” at the end of the interview! Over the coming weeks, as we post more information about the events in May and about those who are participating in them, we’ll also be sure to acknowledge the support we have received from various institutions and organisations. But it all starts with our friends at CN&CO, who inspire, encourage, enable and fund many of the projects undertaken by the Shakespeare Society. Check them out!
With CN&CO’s sponsorship, the Shakespeare Society was also able to apply for a supporting grant from Business and Arts South Africa. BASA does a.m.a.z.i.n.g work bringing together business and arts projects. Read all about it:
A few weeks ago we announced that Shakespeare ZA will be publishing new work by South African poets that responds to Shakespeare’s plays. In this second installment, Lauren Bates weaves her own words into lines from Kate’s speech in Act Four Scene Three of The Taming of the Shrew.
My Tongue will Tell
To the men who drown our voices with their noise
Why sir I trust I may have leave to speak
To the men who say that boys will yet be boys
And speak I will. I am no child, no babe
To the men who hide their failures in our pain
Your betters have endured me say my mind
To the men who see our losses as their gain
And if you cannot, tis best you stop your ears
To the men who leer at us with eyes of lust
My tongue will tell the anger of my heart
To the men that blame us for our misplaced trust
Or else my heart concealing it will break
To the men who build their triumphs on our loss
And rather than it shall I will be free
To the men who nail us to another cross
Even to the uttermost, as I please, in words
To the men who feel that we are theirs to take
I see a woman may be made a fool
To the men who think that we are theirs to break
If she had not a spirit to resist
Remember you who crush to gain control
Do desecrate the temple of your soul
About the author
Lauren Bates is a South African English and Drama teacher, Shakespeare Scholar and Theatre in Education practitioner. After completing a second master’s degree in “Shakespeare and Creativity” at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, she has embarked on a PhD through Wits University to unpack the past, present and future of Shakespeare in the South African high school curriculum. Based on her experience working with the Education Departments at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, she has launched the educational theatre initiative Educasions.
Lauren is directing a production of Matthew Hahn’s play The Robben Island Shakespeare at the Artscape Theatre on 16 April and at the Baxter Theatre on 11 May.