For teachers and learners
We would like to grow Shakespeare ZA 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.
To get things started, we have posted below some links and documents related to Hamlet and Coriolanus, which were selected as Grade 12 set works for English Home Language by the Department of Basic Education and the Independent Examinations Board respectively.
Other Shakespeare plays that are currently set works in South African schools in Grades 10-12 include Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Henry V. Let’s start to build a collection of resources!
- 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.
- There is a general Teacher’s Guide to the Signet (Penguin) edition of Hamlet.
- 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:
- Colette Gordon: review of Two Gents’ Hamlet
- Scott Burnett: “Two Hamlets” (review essay)
- Sandra Young: “Recognising Hamlet”
- Thomas Jeffery: review of Pop-Splat
- Brian Pearce and Kevin Duffy: Hamlet’s soliloquies
- Frances Ringwood: review of Hamlet’s Women
- Andrew Foley: “Heaven or Havoc? The End of Hamlet
- Colette Gordon: review of Hamlet – the Clown Prince
- Peter Titlestad: “Hamlet the Populist Politician”
- Tony Voss: Hamlet and “the myth of the multitude”
- Frances Ringwood: review of Lord Hamlet
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.)
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)