Ayanna Thompson at Wits University (Johannesburg)

Professor Ayanna Thompson of Arizona State University, the keynote speaker at the “Shakespeare and Social Justice” conference taking place in Cape Town from 16-18 May, will be visiting Johannesburg thanks to the American Embassy and the African Centre for the Study of the United States at Wits University.

She will be giving a talk at Wits at 5pm on Monday 13 May. This is a public event - don’t forget to RSVP if you are going to attend!

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"myshakespeare" kicks off at the Baxter!

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:

Making Shakespeare my shakespeare ... with a little help from our friends

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:

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:

My Tongue Will Tell

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

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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.

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