Shakespeare in Southern Africa - Volume 25, Issue 1, 2013
Volumes & issues
Volume 25, Issue 1, 2013
Staging Shakespeare : direction, design and reception
The 8th Triennial Conference of the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa (2-5 July 2012)Source: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp VII –IX (2013)More Less
This conference set out to explore the inter-disciplinary potential of Shakespeare studies by drawing theatre practitioners and performance critics into closer dialogue with academic Shakespeareans. The three-day event, which took place in Grahamstown during the National Arts Festival, succeeded in stimulating a wide range of concerns and some fresh insights. Most of those attending agreed that it had been an enjoyable conference, creating new cross-disciplinary perceptions and unusual approaches. The performance emphasis was reflected in the participation of scholars who were also actors, directors and designers, in the widespread use of photographs, film and production videos to illustrate elements of interpretation, design and staging, and in the inclusion of a final panel session on the quality of reviewing and criticism in South African publications.
Author Chris ThurmanSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp III –V (2013)More Less
The image on the cover of volume 25 of Shakespeare in Southern Africa is a still from Sara Blecher's award-winning film Otelo Burning. Readers who are unfamiliar with the film's provenance may be interested to read Blecher's account of how a "true story" (about the surfing and swimming culture that grew out of Lamontville, a township south of Durban) became "fictionalized" via Shakespeare.
Author Janet SuzmanSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 1 –12 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.1More Less
It is the richest, most varied, most misunderstood part that Shakespeare wrote, and it's quite impossible to get it all. An actress with imagination and a rich life experience has a decent chance of getting most of it. A mature male actor with years behind him of playing female roles? Let's say a good half of it. A boy actor with none of the above, bar a certain flair, a vague grasp of how 'the other half' thinks, a sharp eye, and who is lucky to have an elder sister (or better still a temperamental mother), might have had a fraction of a chance. Else he should just opt for saying the words loud and clear, introduce a pout here, a flounce there, and pray that the audience ekes out the rest of this superhuman human with their imaginations. Expert though those boys might have been, one does rather wonder: who exactly did Shakespeare have in mind when he wrote it? Some Dark Lady or other, I can't help thinking.
Author Ronan PatersonSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 13 –29 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.2More Less
Few areas of scholarship have grown as rapidly in recent years as the study of Shakespearean cinema. A multitude of scholars have explored Shakespearean films from different perspectives, examining the field from the first pioneering efforts to the present day. The discourse is constantly being redefined. Jack Jorgens (1991), who so succinctly theorised the degrees of distance of the films from their source plays, was scathing in his dismissal of the early silent versions. Judith Buchanan (2011), following Robert Hamilton Ball (1968), has redressed this, clearly demonstrating the value of these films. Anthony Davies (1988) contrasted theatrical and cinematic space, and dwelt upon the ways in which they influenced each other. Russell Jackson (2007), with his experience of working on Branagh's screen versions, has examined several key twentieth century productions as articulations of the originals, taking their reception into consideration. No-one has gone further than Richard Burt (1999 and 2002) in exploring the penumbra of Shakespeare derivations. Emma French (2006) has produced an important examination of the marketing of Shakespeare in Hollywood. Kenneth Rothwell (2004), Marcus Pitcaithly (2011) and Daniel Rosenthal (2007), to name but three, have catalogued the large numbers of such films in considerable detail. Important as these and many other books and articles examining the presence of William Shakespeare in the cinema are, however, the areas which have received the least scholarly attention are those which have the most profound effect upon whether or not audiences have any opportunity to see films based upon the plays of Shakespeare in the first place. As Deborah Allison rightly points out, the choice of films that audiences get the opportunity to see "lies less in the range of films that are produced than in the business practices of the distribution and exhibition sectors. These practices have received far less public scrutiny ... yet they are critical in shaping the choice of films available for public consumption." (Allison 81)
Author Sarah RobertsSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 31 –42 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.3More Less
This article sets out to examine aspects of two canonical texts - texts in which the spoken utterance is instrumental in unsettling and even dismantling some notions of the representation of place and identity common in Western theatre - in order to interrogate the "physical language" of the stage to which Artaud refers. In Oedipus Tyrannos and King Lear, the figure of the blind man and the action of blinding establishes a theme that activates a broader enquiry into theatre as a medium and mode of signification and expression along the lines proposed by Artaud. In both plays the action is structured around weighty issues: the relationship between power and insight, the violation of moral and ethical responsibilities to kith and kin as well as to the body politic and, ultimately, the consequences of this transgression. Both plays may be interpreted as extended meditations on the dangers of illusion and a wilful avoidance of questioning 'claims to truth', an avoidance that imperils not only the individual concerned but an entire community. In both cases the significance of clear-sightedness and blindness operates literally and resonates figuratively in relation to questions of power and 'truth'.
Author Peter TitlestadSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 43 –49 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.4More Less
King Claudius has wider problems of rule than just the disruptive behaviour of Hamlet, though they are not unconnected with Hamlet. His kingdom is unruly, he fears the populace - largely because of Hamlet: "Why to a public count I might not go/Is the great love the general gender bear him." (Hamlet 4.7.17-20) The general gender "convert his gyves to graces" (22).
Source: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 51 –59 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.5More Less
What do I mean by irreplaceable acting? In one way all acting is irreplaceable. Very obviously, without acting there is no play, just a text - perhaps not even that, if one considers improvised pieces or physical theatre scenarios. In a more important sense, all acting is replaceable, almost by definition. The same part is played by different actors on different stages in different ages. Acting is replaceable, because it is acting; it is not the real thing. But some performances, some moments on stage, seem to me best described as irreplaceable.
Author Derrick HigginbothamSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 61 –72 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.6More Less
Cardenio is a play with a fraught history ever since Lewis Theobald claimed his tragicomedy Double Falsehood; or The Distrest Lovers (1727) to be a revised version of this Jacobean drama apparently written by Shakespeare. Possibly one of the three manuscripts that Theobald adapts in the early eighteenth century is the same one that Humphrey Moseley, a publisher and bookseller, records in the Stationer's Register in 1653 as The History of Cardenio, although Moseley names the authors of this text as both Shakespeare and Fletcher. Maybe Moseley's manuscript is the same one that the King's Treasurer's records refer to when documenting payments to Shakespeare's company, the King's Men, for performing a play entitled Cardenno in May and then Cardenna in July of 1613. Without an original - that is, at least a copy of one of the manuscripts that Theobald uses for Double Falsehood - the earlier historical references only tantalise literary critics, historians and theatre impresarios, and generate a surprising amount of speculative heat. As Roger Chartier most recently recognises in his Cardenio Between Cervantes and Shakespeare, "the absence of any 'Ur-text' does away with the constraints that ordinarily limit textual variations and material incarnations of the 'same' work", which turns Cardenio into a "unique laboratory" for "textual experiments" (180).
Author Eugenie R. FreedSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 73 –86 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.7More Less
Addressing himself ostensibly "To the Gentlemen Students of Both Universities" in 1589, Thomas Nashe sneered (in print) at writers whom he called "deepe read Grammarians ... hauing no more learning in their scull, than will serue to take up a commoditie; nor Art in their brain, than was nourished in a seruing mans idlenesse" (Nashe [A], cited in Sams 213). Alleging that such despicable hacks "feed on nought but the crummes that fal from the translator's trencher", Nashe - a Cambridge man - spewed out contempt at poets and playwrights who, like Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd, were not university graduates. He reserved his choicest insult for those who "busie themselves with indeuors of Art, that could scarcely Latinize their neck-verse if they should haue neede".
Author Brian PearceSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 87 –98 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.8More Less
Springfield College of Education was a teacher training college in Durban during the apartheid years. It was intended as a college for Indian students and it opened in 1951. A remarkable tradition of Shakespeare production developed at the College during the next twenty years. The College finally closed in 1999, following a merger with other colleges of education. This whole history takes place against the background of apartheid. Springfield was originally a training college for Indian and 'coloured' students, but the coloured students were re-located to Bechet High School and Training College in 1956 (Springfield Training College Magazine [STCM] 1.4 7). This was in accordance with the Nationalist policy of 'separate development'. Originally the college came under the control of the United Party dominated Natal Provincial Administration and formed part of the Natal Education Department, under the same Director of Education as the white government schools in Natal. In 1966, control of Springfield College transferred to the Director of Indian Education (Aurora 2.4 1). Henceforward, there were some controversial political appointments to senior positions in Indian Education.
Author Geoffrey HaresnapeSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 99 –106 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.9More Less
This essay falls within a recognisable sub-field of Shakespeare studies; critical writings on 'Shakespeare and race' or 'race in Shakespeare.' In South Africa such work has tended to focus either on Solomon Plaatje's translations of certain plays, Shakespeare and the Drum writers, problematic adaptations such as Umabatha, or post-apartheid appropriations. Steve Biko, the influential Black Consciousness writer and an iconic martyr for his death at the hands of apartheid authorities, has tended to be neglected within this sub-field. My intention here is to redress that omission by invoking Biko's way of thinking in his widely disseminated and widely quoted book, I Write What I Like (1978), and then by applying that thinking to selected Shakespearean dramatic texts. In the final section, I want to show that Shakespeare's texts suggest surprising additional ideas about Black Consciousness (BC) that find an affirmative response in Biko's own work.
Source: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 107 –110 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.10More Less
Although Crowd and Rumour in Shakespeare has a clear focus on a select group (a sequence) of Shakespeare's plays, Kai Wiegandt's argument has implications for a more general reading. The thesis is that the playwright is not "exclusively concerned with individuality in his exploration of the human condition, and that the enduring appeal of his plays is also due to his concern with man as an essentially collective being" (2). The book's concentration on crowds and rumour, then, is not on a peripheral or incidental motif, but on something central to the trajectory of Shakespeare's thought: his conscious exploration of these phenomena "should help readers today step out of the myth that Shakespeare was solely occupied with individuality when exploring humanity" (173). Wiegandt's close readings of individual plays are informed by studies in philosophy, history and sociology, and by wide reference to a range of Shakespearean criticism.
The problem with "coconuttiness"
Shakespeare and the Coconuts: On Post-apartheid South African Culture, Natasha Distiller : book reviewAuthor Bhekizizwe PetersonSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25, pp 111 –113 (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v25i1.11More Less
As intimated by the conjunction in its title, this book is a multi-layered deliberation on a range of interconnected concerns and themes. Seemingly in dialogue, in part, with Kopano Matlwa's novel Coconut and Andile Mngxitama's short article for City Press newspaper - "Coconut Kids have Lost Touch with Their Roots" - Distiller takes on a range of socio-political, educational and cultural attitudes in post-apartheid South Africa concerning "the relationship between race, culture, privilege, and language" that she finds "ignorant", "flawed" and potentially "dangerous" (23). With Shakespeare serving as the constant icon, uber-text and thematic thread, the crux of her project is to interrogate the socio-political history and ideological significances of the different ways in which Shakespeare and his texts have been, amongst others, used, interpreted and appropriated "in South African history, politics and materiality ... and why this history matters" (3).
Source: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 25 (2013)More Less
The Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa mourns the passing of a theatre legend. To Shakespeareans he was known, together with his wife, the late Helen Mann, as the founder of the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival. In the City's wider cultural circles he was associated with the creation or restoration of no fewer than four performance spaces: the Opera House, the Feather Market Centre, the Savoy Theatre and, of course, Mannville, the open-air theatre in St George's Park, modelled on Cape Town's Maynardville. This alone would constitute a remarkable contribution. But there was infinitely more to this talented and civic-minded man.