From the 17th to the 24th of April 2016, three Drama students Murray Clark, Carrick Keating and Pierre Parrott, accompanied by Director of Culture Luke Holder, will be touring Cape Town as invited performers for the annual Shakespeare Schools Festival at the Baxter Theatre, with their acclaimed 20-minute production of The Merchant of Venice. Playing all the characters between them, with no sets or props, and aided only by a towel, they weave a tale of desperation and intrigue on the fabulously filthy streets of Venice.
Whilst in the Cape, the students will also be performing the phenomenally popular parody The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) at the Waterfront Theatre, and schools performances at Wynberg Boys’ High School and Rustenberg Girls’ High School. The play, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987, went on to 9 record-breaking years on London’s West End, and has been the world’s most performed stage parody for the last 20 years.
The annual Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSF SA) is proudly presented by NPO Educape, founded in 2007 by Festival Coordinator and Creative Director, Kseniya Filinova-Bruton. Educape’s vision is to mobilise the collective and individual dreams of our country’s youth through Performing Arts and Education – an ideal that is shared by the WBHS Performing Arts mandate.
Educape, in conjunction with the Robben Island Bible (a play by Matthew Hahn), our three Westville Boys’ High School students and a few former prisoners will be hosting a celebration day event on Robben Island on Saturday, 23 April. This event aims to tell the story of how a copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, smuggled onto the island disguised as a Hindu prayer book by Sonny Venkatratnam’s wife, inspired the detainees on the island during their imprisonment. Sonny Venkatrathnam will return to the island once more in remembrance of the event, and to honour the importance that Shakespeare played in his life, and many others, while imprisoned. Westville Boys’ is proud of our students who have been asked to perform extracts from the works of Bard at this auspicious occasion.
Tickets for the Baxter Theatre performance of The Merchant of Venice on Thursday 21 April 2016 can be purchased through Computicket (www.computicket.com) or any of their registered outlets.
Here follows a critique by Deputy Principal, Alan Miller, who had the opportunity of witnessing their fine performances:
“I sat through their two performances at the Baxter Theatre last night suffused by a deep sense of pleasure and satisfaction at what our three students and Luke had achieved. They played to a full house at the Baxter as the first and fourth acts of the evening and were given a standing ovation for both, no mean achievement. For those who don’t know, the Baxter stage is a huge working space and for only three young actors to FILL this space so effectively and so entirely is comment on their abilities and on the way Luke has nurtured and grown this talent. I was totally absorbed by their individual characterisations of the different players in their rendition of “The Merchant of Venice”. To be able to enthrall someone who has taught Shakespeare for more than thirty years is, also, no mean achievement. Their far more risqué second piece, an extract from “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” was lapped up by adults and adolescents in the house. By the end of this piece, the three had the audience so enchanted by their Goon-like antics that could have done anything they wanted on stage and it would have been applauded, but being the professional-amateurs they are they didn’t, no mean achievement in the arena of adolescent self-control. Today they will be giving their third show at Wynberg Boys’ High, which I’ll be attending. All reports that I’ve received indicate that this too is something I’ll enjoy. Their earlier two, to the entire school, have both been overwhelming successes.”