Shakespeare in Southern Africa - Volume 27, Issue 1, 2015
Volumes & issues
Volume 27, Issue 1, 2015
Author Chris ThurmanSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp III –IV (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.1More Less
I write these introductory words in Germany, where I am fortunate to be spending six months dipping into the archives at the University of Cologne's Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung (Theatre Studies Collection), watching lots of Shakespeare on stage, testing my limited ability to read German, and meeting with as many scholars and theatre practitioners as possible. This is the beginning of a collaboration that, I hope, will result in a future volume of Shakespeare in Southern Africa dedicated to the very different - but often, in ways both surprising and predictable, similar - manifestations of Shakespeare in South Africa and Germany.
Author Daniel RouxSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 1 –14 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.2More Less
This article starts with a somewhat naive question: what drives an identification with tragedy - and Shakespeare's tragedies in particular - in the context of South African politics? The first part of the article relates to the cultural dialectics of tragedy as a genre, its journeys across time and space as it is reworked to serve different purposes, to constitute distinct publics and to enframe new social and historical realities. The second part presents a case study: Mark Gevisser's biography of Thabo Mbeki, A Dream Deferred, which presents Mbeki as a Coriolanus-like figure. This aspect of the book has drawn criticism from South African commentators. The article considers Gevisser's construction of a tragic narrative architecture around the putative sympathy between a politician and a literary character. Finally, it offers a reading of Coriolanus as a tragedy that speaks to the very crisis of interpretation that is provoked by the itinerant, labile condition of the genre of tragedy itself.
Author John AtkinsonSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 15 –23 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.3More Less
William Hazlitt's 1816 essay on Shakespeare's Coriolanus was supposedly a review of a production by John Kemble. Yet it begins with a reference to Burke and Paine, and develops as a discourse on republic versus monarchy. This would have been more appropriate if Shakespeare had based his play on the account of Dionysius Halicarnassus, but Shakespeare took his material from Plutarch's life of Coriolanus, and Plutarch had recast Dionysius' account, since he was writing biography and not political history. Hazlitt used his essay to advance his campaign against contemporary poets, especially those of a Tory persuasion, and to vent his spleen against those who had abandoned their rational republican ideals in favour of celebrating the reinstatement of the monarchy in France and the defeat and humiliation of Napoleon.
Author Jennifer De ReuckSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 25 –32 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.4More Less
This article offers a reading of John Webster's masterpiece, The Duchess of Malfi (1614), as an exemplification of an 'aesthetics of sacrifice' in which human agency is first presented - in the character of the widowed Duchess - and then radically undermined. The reader/receiver of the text, it is argued, rather than encountering the ultimately positive, secular humanism that many critics have discerned in the play, is left with an impression of the dramatic world as devoid of purpose, its central character denied subjectivity as the playwright traces the tight arc of the Duchess's trajectory from the laughing decider of her own destiny in Act 1, to her abjection and death at the instigation of her murderous, controlling brothers in Act 4. In support of this reading of Webster's vision, the paper draws on the work of the phenomenologist Roman Ingarden's insights into the construction of the literary work of art, adapting his constructionist view of such works to the drama. Close textual analysis - augmented by the experience of two exceptional recent productions of the play - offers a rationale for a reading of The Duchess of Malfi as the depiction of a world ultimately devoid of meaning. While this chimes with early modern theorists' notions of 'the' Jacobean world-view as nihilist, what is offered here is an explication of the underlying (dramatological) mechanisms that infuse and construct the reader/receiver's response to a work in which the central character retains a fascination for audiences, arguably equal to that usually reserved for the best of Webster's more famous contemporary, Shakespeare.
Author Conrad KempSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 33 –38 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.5More Less
Trying to relate the truth with facts is surprisingly unreliable. This is why the mere presence of facts can't move one towards vegetarianism and why big tobacco continues to thrive. I once met a pig as it ran along Baden Powell Drive. The pig, bristly black and urgently trotting along the verge, saw me urinating into the undergrowth. A big dog was loping along in the distance with its nose to the ground and pig on its mind. My car's engine clicked as it cooled. I urinated, the pig looked at me, and fifty odd meters away the dog lifted its head and looked at us. That the pig then took refuge between my legs until the dog turned and walked away to some other scrap in the world adjusted me more than a consideration of intelligence hierarchies in the animal kingdom ever could. No amount of exposition (read information for the purposes of my anecdote) can change behaviour unless it is discovered and communicated through human experience.
Author Josiah NyandaSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 39 –46 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.6More Less
The climate prior to, during and after the sixth elective congress of Zimbabwe's ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) was tense, full of plots by delegates to outdo each other in the battle to succeed ageing leader Robert Mugabe. The stage was set for the inadvertent re-enactment of episodes and scenes from two of Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth and King Lear. The drama that unfolded around the elective congress (held in December 2014) exposed underhanded schemes and hypocrisy in the succession battle. It is my submission that the dramatic performances before, during and after the congress reproduced Jeffrey Davidow's delineation of the 1979 Lancaster House Conference as Zanu-PF's 'three-act play, or better put, a one-act play performed three times, but with enough variety and tension so as not to rob each performance of its drama.'
Author Tara LevertonSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 47 –52 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.7More Less
After a fourteen-year absence, Othello has returned to Maynardville in a competent and often enjoyable staging by Abrahamse and Meyer Productions, directed by Fred Abrahamse and with Marcel Meyer as set designer, costume designer, verse coach and in the role of Iago. A departure from their colorful, at times overwrought Midsummer Night's Dream of 2013, this Othello is meat and potatoes Shakespeare; while most elements of the production are at least competently done, and the high quality of the cast keeps one engrossed in the story, there is little here that is especially innovative. The primary goal of this production seems to be making the text as accessible as possible. Writing for the Daily Maverick, Marianne Thamm provides a clue as to why this might be. She describes how Abrahamse and Meyer initially approached the Artscape Theatre Centre and "secured an agreement to produce Othello for the theatre's schools programme, due to take place later in 2015". Budgetary constraints resulted in the school show and the annual Maynardville show being "collapsed into one production", which may explain why this year's Othello feels more suited to newcomers to Shakespeare than to the seasoned Maynardville faithful.
Author Geoffrey HaresnapeSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 53 –59 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.8More Less
In the just on sixty years over which an annual Shakespearean play has been given at the Maynardville Theatre-in-the-Park in Wynberg, Cape Town, Othello has been staged four times. I happen to have seen all four productions, and what follows is both a formal theatre history and a series of personal reflections on the play as performed in four distinct historical contexts. The first production, under the direction of Leonard Schach, was mounted in 1970, fifteen years after the opening of the theatre. This was at a time when 'granite apartheid' was in its ascendency - segregationist policies were arrogantly applied. Twelve years elapsed before Roy Sargeant's Othello, the second, was presented. By then, the country had witnessed the Soweto Uprising, MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress) was placing bombs "at many military and apartheid targets around the country" and the white leadership was rather less sure of itself.
Author Tony VossSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 61 –69 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.9More Less
Ashwin Desai. Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island. Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2012.
David Schalkwyk. Hamlet's Dreams: The Robben Island Shakespeare. London: Arden/Bloomsbury, 2013.
Chris Thurman (ed). South African Essays on "Universal" Shakespeare. Farnham/Burlington: Ashgate, 2014.
"U mis natuur se groot genesing: slaap" : sovereign insomnia and Macbeth in Afrikaans : theatre reviewAuthor Sonja LootsSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 71 –75 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.10More Less
When Marthinus Basson's adaptation of Macbeth opened at the Baxter Theatre, it had already enjoyed successful runs on the festival circuit, where it had amassed awards for best actor (Dawid Minnaar), best actress (Anna-Mart van der Merwe), best supporting actor (Charlton George), best director, best design and best production, amongst others. Veteran actor Dawid Minnaar in the title role was supported by three doyennes of Afrikaans theatre: Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Jana Cilliers and Antoinette Kellerman. For most of the Baxter performances, Charlton George was replaced by André Roothman, but the rest of the original cast remained unchanged. Reviews of the production in mainstream publications had been almost unanimously positive. To many members of Basson's Baxter audience the prospect of a thought-provoking and stimulating theatre experience would therefore have seemed almost guaranteed. But the two performances I attended received polite applause rather than standing ovations, and there seemed to be very little connection between the rave reviews and the lukewarm audience response.
Author Andrew DicksonSource: Shakespeare in Southern Africa 27, pp 77 –78 (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sisa.v27i1.11More Less
No such thing as bad publicity, the adage goes. Brett Bailey must be wondering about that. It takes a great deal to make a scandal in the world-weary, seen-it-all-before environment of the London arts scene, but the South African artist managed it. Days before his retooled, stripped-to-the-minimum version of Verdi's Macbeth opened for a brief run at the Barbican, a companion work by Bailey found itself the object of unwelcome scrutiny.