Shakespeare school festival kicks off

Vista Nova High School pupils in Much Ado About Nothing in 2018. This year they will perform in The Robben Island Shakespeare and present their abridged 30-minute version of Macbeth at the Shakespeare Schools Festival at the Baxter on Saturday May 18.

The 9th Shakespeare School Festival South Africa (SSF SA) kicks off on Tuesday April 16 and will take place
at the Artscape and Baxter theatres.

This year’s festival will be dedicated to freedom fighter Sonny Venkatrathnam who died on March 15 at the age of 84.

During his incarceration on Robben Island, Mr Venkatrathnam smuggled in a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, disguised it as a Bible and passed it between a number of prisoners, including Nelson Mandela.

Many of the inmates marked their favourite passages in the book and Mandela’s signature was found next to a quote from Julius Caesar: “Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once”.

The festival will open with the play by Matthew Hahn titled The Robben Island Shakespeare, performed by former Vista Nova High School pupils and actors from the Educasions group.

Leading up to the 2019 festival, organiser Kseniya Filinova-Bruton and festival MC Tafara Nyatsanza, will be hosting coaching workshops for pupils at various schools including Vista Nova, Darul Arqam Islamic and Chris Hani high schools Westlake Primary School and the Lalela Project.

The SSF SA is an education programme aimed at improving language and social skills through the performing arts.

Schools get to perform 30-minute abridged versions of the plays and 31 schools will be taking part in the SSF SA in Cape Town.

Performances, open to the public, are from Tuesday April 16 to Thursday April 18 at Artscape and from Monday May 13 to Saturday May 18 at the Baxter. The complete works of the “Robben Island Bible” will be on exhibition in the Baxter Theatre foyer on Friday May 17 and Saturday May 18.

Performances at Artscape and the Baxter start at 7pm with booking through Computicket for the Artscape and Webtickets or 021 680 3989 for the Baxter.