“Theatre will rise again,” declared James Ngcobo, artistic director of the renowned Market Theatre in Johannesburg. “COVID hasn’t stifled our passion, just moved it into another space.”

This month, Ngcobo is spotlighting speeches from some of Shakespeare’s iconic plays, mostly written for male characters but acted here by women. Reversing the roles, he says, will provide the actors with artistic challenges in dramas that were written more than 400 years ago but are still relevant today.

The theatre’s new production, “Chilling with the Bard” opened in August for “Women’s Month” with August 9 a public holiday in South Africa commemorating the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria with petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures against the country’s pass laws.

Pass laws required South Africans defined as “Black” to carry an internal passport known as a pass, that maintained population segregation, controlled urbanization, and managed migrant labour during the apartheid era.

“It is really a marvel that almost 400 years after he wrote this great literature, we are still intrigued and engulfed in this magnificent work of brilliance,” observed Ngcobo. “Shakespeare poured his heart and imagination into these wondrous stories that have been acclaimed, enjoyed, and staged over the years.”

“With a 44-year history and over 300 awards, the Market Theatre Foundation remains at the forefront of producing and presenting cutting edge work that has an authentic African artistic voice and which is inclusive of the rich tapestry of African diversity.”

Ngcobo and the actresses in Shakespearean roles can be seen on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRNt1oKlOgs [IDN-InDepthNews – 07 September 2020]


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