"my shakespeare" revisited

It’s hard to believe that almost a month has passed since the “my shakespeare” teachers’ workshop at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town! For those who were fortunate enough to participate in this event, the energy and ideas and passion that it generated feel very fresh. We thought it would be a good idea to post a little reminder . . .

Firstly, a big THANK YOU to our wonderful hosts at the Baxter Theatre, and to our generous sponsors: the always-awesome folk at CN&CO and the amazingly-arts-affirming BASA!

These posters are a record of the “silent conversation” that took place alongside the presentations and workshop sessions … and of course all the LOUD conversations in between!

Our presenters, Robyn Tyler, Buhle Ngaba, Bronwen Rees, Amanda Mkehle and Lauren Bates, gave fascinating plenary talks on:

  • Orienting towards our learners: Shakespeare in the multilingual classroom

  • Readings and reflections on Shakespeare in translation

  • Integrating Shakespeare across the curriculum


  • Improvisation in teaching and performing Shakespeare

Then it was time for breakaway sessions on:

  • Lifting the text off the page

  • Multilingual Essay Writing


  • Creative Writing with Shakespeare’s Fools

Day one ended with a performance, by alumni of Vista Nova School, of The Robben Island Shakespeare (written by Matthew Hahn and directed by Lauren Bates).

Day two concluded with a panel discussion, including Fazeelah Haffejee of the Western Cape Education Department and Peter Ruddock of the Independent Examinations Board, on the challenges of transforming curriculum and assessment practices.

So, where to from here?

Well, we have to tackle those curriculum and assessment issues!

And how about using Shakespeare to support the language and literacy advocacy work of the bua-lit collective? You can read Robyn Tyler’s blog post about “my shakespeare” on the bua-lit website here.

Or maybe you and your learners could sign up for the Shakespeare Schools Festival?

We are currently revising the Resources section of Shakespeare ZA to accommodate the teaching and learning materials that some of the “my shakespeare” participants have generously shared (different plays will have dedicated pages, the Translation section will be expanding, etc). Please keep these contributions coming …

Make sure you follow Shakespeare ZA on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to receive updates in the coming months, and spread the word among your learners and fellow teachers!

Finally, a few thoughts from workshop participants:

It was great that all of the sessions were so interactive! We got to do things that made us vulnerable, but also affirmed us as experienced teachers and helped us realise that we know more than we thought. Sometimes you know it ‘at the back of your brain’, but you are so focused on the curriculum and exams that you don’t have time or energy to think beyond that. The atmosphere was so productive and everyone was really concentrating, expanding our ideas as well as having the reassurance of what we are already getting right. And thinking about our learners’ needs – for example, encouraging movement in the classroom, allowing the children to learn and explore through performance.
I realised that I need to be more aware of the multilingualism my learners bring into the class. Even English, I have learned, is not a ‘monolingual language’, it is translingual, influenced by the different language environments and language backgrounds of the speaker. And so there are many different ‘versions’ of English! I am going to take back to my school what I learned about multilingualism and explore how translation plays a role in understanding, not just Shakespeare, not just English, but other subjects too.
Teachers need to network more. So often the teachers I work with are conservative in their approach, but the colleagues I met attending this workshop are really forward-thinking! The speakers were fantastic, their talks were well-structured and very informative. It would have been nice to have more question time, and more time for discussion between teachers. Please make the workshop materials available online! ***