The 9th Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSF SA) Opens At The Baxter 13 May
The 9th Shakespeare School Festival South Africa (SSF SA) got off to an excellent start at the Artscape Arena last month with record audience attendance. The second leg of the annual festival opens at the Baxter Theatre on 13 May. This year the SSF SA is dedicated to the late freedom fighter Sonny Venkatrathnam who smuggled a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare onto Robben Island during his incarceration. Tafara Nyatsanza, a SSF alumni, will MC the festival nightly.
During the 9th Artscape season of the SSF, participating schools included Darul Arqam Islamic High School, Curro Independent School, Westerford High School, Chris Hani HS, Westlake Primary School, Vista Nova High School and the Lalela Project. Last year, the SSF was held for the first time in St Petersburg, Russia and it was launched in Moscow last month by SSF SA Founder-Director Kseniya Filinova-Bruton who hails from St Petersburg.
Under guidance from the SSF teams, schools throughout the country prepare and perform 30-minute abridged versions of the play of their choice and those taking part this year hail from all over the Western Cape Metropole and as far afield as Hermanus, 31 schools in total in the Cape alone. The De La Bat School for the Deaf, using South African sign language (SASL), and the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired, delivered ground breaking performances of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth respectively in 2018 and both schools will perform again this year at the Baxter.
The SSF SA is an education program aimed at improving language and social skills through the Performing Arts. It is Educape's flagship initiative that was launched in 2010 by Filinova-Bruton with the objective of strengthening the link between the Arts and education. Since inception, the SSF SA has gone from 20 to 2000 participating youth and Learners across the Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Staging a Shakespeare play in a professional theatre is a challenge to be relished and the SSF SA is an ideal way for young people seeking to explore their potential in a fun, developmental way, simultaneously making their theatre debut on a professional stage in a non-competitive environment. The SSF SA is fully interactive and provides guidance and the resources through scripts, training, frame work and feedback that equips Learners and Educators to successfully direct and perform Shakespearean plays from the first line to the final bow.
This is the fourth year that the event will be held at the Baxter Main Theatre. Performances are open to the public and the season runs from 13 to 18 May. On 17 and 18 May, during the SSF SA season, the complete works of the Robben Island Bible will be on exhibition in the Baxter Theatre foyer.