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Shakespeare schools festival with a South African twist returns this year

17 April 2021 10:43 AM
Tags:
School
Education
William Shakespeare
arts festival

The 11th annual Shakespeare Schools Festival kicks off at the Artscape theatre in Cape Town next week.

The much anticipated Shakespeare schools festival South Africa (SSFSA) is going ahead this year, marking the eleventh edition of the annual event which showcases the best of the world-renowned 16th century British playwright, William Shakespeare.

The festival will see popular Shakespearean plays like Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Othello brought to life on stage by learners from schools across the Western Cape, with some productions having a unique South African flavour.

Samantha Pearce, a drama teacher & play director at Leiden High School in Delft says they've localised one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, Romeo and Juliet, by doing it in Afrikaans.

We're doing it in a modern way. The learners do lose confidence when they see the original Shakespeare script in the Elizabethan language. That's why I put it in Afrikaans, a language which they can relate to, that's their mother-tongue. I wanted to show their culture, so I'm very proud of that.

Samantha Pearce - Drama teacher & play director at Leiden High School in Delft

How does, 'But hark, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon. How does that sound in Afrikaans?

John Maytham - CapeTalk Afternoon Drive Presenter

When it comes to the part where Juliet asks Romeo, 'How did you get here, the walls are so high and hard to climb"? It would be 'Hoe't jy hier gekom? Die muur is hoog'. So instead of saying, 'Are you Spiderman'?, it would say, 'Is jy dan nou spinnekop man'?

Samantha Pearce - Drama teacher & play director at Leiden High School in Delft

Pearce says by doing the Shakespeare production in a uniquely South African way, the learners are more comfortable and adapt easier to the roles.

She adds that by doing it in their home language, learners can express themselves better, as opposed to performing the production in a second language and finding it difficult.

The majority of the learners speak Afrikaans at home. It's an asset to the learners, they have free reign to be creative and come up with a lot of modern ideas, even using modern technology and genres like dancing and singing, things that they can relate to.

Samantha Pearce - Drama teacher & play director at Leiden High School in Delft

Since its inception in 2010, the SSFSA has been a highlight on the cultural calendars of amateur dramatic societies and school drama groups, and being able to hold the event after a particularly harrowing year for the theatre industry is welcome news.

Over the past decade the festival has become Africa’s largest Shakespeare youth drama program and to date has worked with over 490 schools, 9000 youth and 670 educators across the Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.

This year, the Artscape line up comprises of a number of schools, including Hermanus High School, Fish Hoek Primary School, Reddam House College and Wynberg Boys' High School.

Thomas Hugo, Grade 12 learner and head of drama at Wynberg Boys' High School says they're doing a unique take on Othello this year.

We are performing in conjunction with Wynberg Girls High, our Othello is actually a student at Wynberg Girls High. And our Desdemona, Othello's wife is a student at Wynberg Boys' High, so we've got a bit of gender role swapping there.

Thomas Hugo - Grade 12 learner and head of drama at Wynberg Boys' High School

The Wynberg Boys Acting Association has always been open to letting pretty much anyone to the role. Gender hasn't been a huge factor in it, and whoever has been the best for the role got the part. So it just so happens that our Othello comes from Wynberg Girls' High School, and Desdemona comes from Wynberg Boys' High School.

Thomas Hugo - Grade 12 learner and head of drama at Wynberg Boys' High School

Audiences will be permitted at the festival which gets underway from 19-24 April at the Artscape Theatre Centre, and then at the Masque Theatre from 6th - 8th May 2021, with all Covid-19 protocols observed.

Tickets cost R50 at both venues, available via Computicket. For queries or further info, visit www.ssfsa.co.za or email info@ssfsa.co.za

Listen to the audio below of interview on the Afternoon Drive show with John Maytham




17 April 2021 10:43 AM
Tags:
School
Education
William Shakespeare
arts festival

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