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 in 2017 by the Department of Basic Education and the Independent Examinations Board respectively.
In 2018, Grade 12 learners will study either Hamlet or Othello, selected by the Department of Basic Education, or Antony and Cleopatra, selected by the Independent Examinations Board (IEB). We have now also added resources and links for these plays. Also see our Stage and Screen section for more information on performances of these plays for students throughout the year.
Other Shakespeare plays that are currently set works in South African schools in Grades 10-12 include Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V. Let’s start to build a collection of resources!
Antony and Cleopatra
The following videos are of two different 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.
- The RSC has also published several teacher packs (2010, 2013, 2017) based on their productions of the play.
- Shakespeare scholar Farah Karim-Cooper's essay, "Eastern Star", considers the role of Cleopatra and how the character would have been understood and received in early modern England.
- 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:
- Essays and research papers on the play, including "The mind of Iago" and "Women in Othello".
- Videos of Act 3.3 and Act 4.3, with accompanying analyses.
- 'Script Machines' (interactive resources for students to explore literary devices used in particular scenes). These cover Act 1.2 (lines 17-28), Act 3.3, and Act 3.4.
- 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)