n Shakespeare in Southern Africa - re-configured : an ensemble presentation of improvised permutations

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-582X



The was a fourth year student production at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2013. It sought to harness the delivery of thoroughly assimilated dialogue with improvised staging, adopting Brook's proposition of a play as a "knot of energy". The production functioned as a crucible through which the medium of theatre could be tested and the relationship between performer and audience was among the key phenomena being probed. We wished to challenge assumptions regarding conventions of passive spectatorship and meaning-making on the part of the audience. We were committed to proving the accessibility of the play in contemporary terms. Our goal was to interpret a Renaissance view of Imperialism through the prism of our own experiences of post-colonial South Africa and Johannesburg in particular. More ambitiously, the production set out to contest the notion of fixity by resolving that all individual character roles should be spontaneously (and variously) taken on in each of the ten performances. Any single electronic recording of a performance would, accordingly, seem to be an inappropriate (and even misleading) record of the experiment, since each night prompted radical reformulations in staging. This article attempts an overview of the reference points, methodology and outcomes of the work.

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