For teachers and learners
Shakespeare ZA continues to grow as a portal for the sharing of teaching and learning resources. We invite you to share with us the materials and websites that you have found useful in the classroom or when working on your own. In this section you will find articles, reviews, interviews, slideshows, images, videos, links and lots of other documentation related to Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, Hamlet, Coriolanus and Macbeth, which have been selected as Grade 12 set works for English Home Language learners by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) in recent years.
Various other Shakespeare plays are currently set works in South African schools. Let’s keep building our collection of resources!
To start a conversation about some of the general questions - misgivings? - teachers and learners may have about studying Shakespeare in SA today, you can download this presentation by Nina Nathanson (prepared in response to the IEB Common Assessment Task topic in 2018, which raised the problem of Shakespeare’s relevance/irrelevance).
Antony and Cleopatra
For starters, you might like to read two these articles from Shakespeare ZA’s “Interview Series” about how a South African cast and director developed a schools-oriented travelling production of the play.
Here is an essay by Johannesburg-based English teacher Mary van Zyl, discussing how Antony is “two things”: a Roman Antony and an Egyptian Antony.
The following videos are of two productions of Antony and Cleopatra by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). The first video is a trailer for the 2017 production – a possible point of departure for discussion. The next two are extracts from the play in performance: Act 1.3 (2017), and Act 5.2 (2013), which might be watched in conjunction with reading these parts of the play.
An Othello spark page, prepared by Mrs Bernice Borain, is displayed below. It may also be accessed here.
The videos below are of a 2015 RSC production starring Hugh Quarshie as Othello and Lucien Msamati as Iago. The production is noteworthy because it casts a black man (Msamati) in the traditionally white role of Iago. This casting choice might be an interesting point for discussion and debate.
The website for Shakespeare's Globe has some useful resources for students and teachers:
Videos of Act 3.3 and Act 4.3, with accompanying analyses.
In these two videos, Benedict Cumberbatch talks about taking on the role of Hamlet in a 2015 production at the Barbican Theatre in London; alongside, Kenneth Branagh discusses his 1996 film version of the play.
The Young Vic Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in the UK have also produced interesting education packs linked to their productions of the play. You may find it noteworthy that the RSC material emphasises how their 2016 production (directed by Simon Godwin) was guided by a desire to “draw on influences of African culture”, and to frame the politics, religion and social dynamics of the play in an African context. What do you think of this? Do you think it is possible to generalise about “African” cultural beliefs and practices?
It might also be useful to think about different approaches to or manifestations of Hamlet in a specifically South African context. In recent years a number of South African writers and scholars have tackled the play – the selection below includes research articles, essays and reviews of books and stage productions:
Coriolanus is a political play: it is about life on the public stage. The characters and their relationships can be confusing! This fun breakdown of the dramatis personae may help.
Coriolanus has a particularly interesting resonance in South Africa – both because of the play’s action and themes, and because it is a favourite of former President Thabo Mbeki. This article by Daniel Roux assesses the connections between Mbeki and Coriolanus in light of the history of “tragedy” as a genre in South Africa.
Coriolanus is not performed very often – certainly not as often as Hamlet. In 2011 Ralph Fiennes directed and starred in a film version that has become a standard point of reference. Here is Fiennes discussing his film in three parts:
In 2016, the Rohan Quince and Nikki Pilkington directed a production for the National Children’s Theatre that toured South Africa, performing at schools across the country. The images below illustrate key moments in the play. (Click to enlarge.)
A Macbeth spark page, prepared by Mrs Bernice Borain, is displayed below. It may also be accessed here.
Shakespeare ZA thanks all contributors to this page, especially the passionate and hard-working South African teachers who are willing to share their resources, essays and notes. Here are a few of them …
Mary van Zyl
Senior English Teacher
King David High School (Victory Park)
Subject Teacher: English
St John's Diocesan School for Girls
St Mary’s School, Waverley
Other links and resources
The Language of Shakespeare
The Language from Chaucer to Shakespeare
English Handwriting 1500-1700: An Online Course
The Works of the Bard
General Shakespeare Sites
The Royal Shakespeare Company
The Internet Shakespeare Editions
Illustrated Shakespeare 1826-1919
International Shakespeare Associations and Societies
Asian Shakespeare Association
Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association
The Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft
The Shakespeare Association of America
Shakespeare-Genootschap van Nederland en Vlaanderen
British Shakespeare Association
The Shakespeare Society of Japan
Shakespeare Association of Korea
The Shakespeare Association (India)