Star-studded cast for online reading of HAMLET


Star-studded cast for a once-off, live online reading of Neil Coppen’s Work in Development of William Shakespeare’s HAMLET.

Theatre enthusiasts will have the rare opportunity to experience a work in progress in the continued development of Neil Coppen’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s HAMLET.

DGC in partnership with VRTheatrical and the KKNK, in association with the Tsikanya-Chaka Centre and the Centre for Creative Arts-UKZN, present a professional, rehearsed reading of a new version of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, adapted and directed by Coppen, an internationally acclaimed writer, designer and director. The reading forms part of the further development of the piece.

Featuring a brilliant local cast, the once-off, live online reading will take place on Monday 31 May at 18:00 and will be hosted on the KKNK website. It will be free to view for those who wish to tune in.

The cast for the rehearsed reading includes: Anelisa Phewa, Rehane Abrahams, David Dennis, Buhle Ngaba, Faniswa Yisa, Tony Bonani Miyambo, Tshego Khutsoane, Jemma Khan, Richard September and Royston Stoffels.

South African born Broadway actress, Bianca Amato, and multi-award-winning South African actor, writer and speaker, Buhle Ngaba, (Swan Song, What Remains and author of The Girl Without A Sound) will be Associate Directors alongside Coppen for the reading.

A Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre recipient, Coppen’s prolific work includes Animal Farm, Abnormal Loads, and Tin Bucket Drum which in 2019 was awarded the English Academy of Southern Africa Olive Schreiner Prize for Drama. He is one of six South African playwrights to have been granted a staged reading of his work at The Royal Court Theatre. Neil also co-directed and designed Cape Town Opera’s premiere of Tsotsi – the Musical, and in early 2020 collaborated with Canadian First Nations dance company Red Sky Productions in Toronto on the premiere of a new work titled AF. Seminal to Coppen’s work across a range of cultures and communities in South Africa, is a social-justice, theatre-making methodology, Empatheatre, which he co-founded and created with actress, Mpume Mthombeni, and sociologist, Dr Dylan McGarry.

Bianca Amato is an award-winning actor, acting coach and director who has returned to South Africa after working in theatre in New York City for fifteen years. She will be acting as Associate Director and text coach for this reading of HAMLET. She is also in the process of forming The Quickening Theatre Company which will focus primarily on performing Shakespeare in a South African context.

“HAMLET was scheduled to run at The Fugard Theatre in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent closure of The Fugard. I am delighted that Neil’s bold vision for this production will take a big step towards further development with an incredible team, enabling audiences to experience the compelling nature of a live reading which forms part of the development process,” says Producer, Daniel Galloway, who marks his first independent presentation under his DGC banner with this presentation of the reading of HAMLET.

“When Greg Karvellas from The Fugard approached me to direct an adaptation of Hamlet, I jumped at the opportunity as it’s the one Shakespearean text that really excited me to reimagine and bring to life within a contemporary South African setting. My adaptation focuses on a South African Royal/Political dynasty not unlike the ones we see on the nightly news. Whenever I hear or read about the latest succession scandal, I’m reminded of how authentically the themes and ideas behind Hamlet can be situated within modern day South African cultures and paradigms,” says Coppen.

“Rehearsing Shakespeare on Zoom is definitely not without its own set of challenges which is why I’m extremely grateful to have both Buhle and Bianca’s support in the Zoom rehearsal room with me. I’m excited about where our adaptation of Hamlet currently sits, and how this online reading process will enable it to grow and expand further. The script and concept I’m starting out with will benefit and develop greatly from the feedback, imaginations and inputs of our assembled cast.”

“I see this reading as a way to publicly acknowledge the initial vision and support of Eric Abraham, Greg Karvellas and the formidable team at The Fugard Theatre, all of whom made this process possible in the first place,” says Coppen.

Associate Director, Buhle Ngaba, comments, “I am inspired by the opportunity to continue to excavate Shakespeare on home ground. It’s something I couldn’t turn down as either an actor or associate on the project. I hope that audiences are offered a unique perspective on all the possibilities to be explored through storytelling within the diaspora. I am ready to meet the ‘Zoom’ challenge and the moment as any artist does; with a readiness to dive right in.”

Associate Director, Bianca Amato, comments, “I have always been in awe of Coppen’s explosive and visceral theatre making-style and I am looking forward to collaborating with the immensely talented team to present a unique reading of Shakespeare’s powerful tragedy, which will be accessible for people around the world to experience.”

The live, online reading of HAMLET has been made possible through the support of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the National Arts Council.

The rehearsed reading of Neil Coppen’s adaptation of HAMLET will be presented on Monday 31 May at 18:00. To watch the free live, once-off online reading, visit

For further information, visit


Daniel Galloway

With a Degree in Drama & Linguistics from Rhodes University and following 8 years at the University of Cape Town as resident Production Manager & Lighting Designer, Daniel was asked to join the brand new, purpose built Fugard Theatre in Cape Town as Managing Director & Producer in 2010. There he worked alongside Producer Eric Abraham leading a formidable team which established The Fugard as one of the Premiere Theatre Destinations in South Africa.

Daniel, in his career, has produced over 150 Theatrical Productions both locally and internationally, which collectively have received over 220 Award Nominations. After almost a decade at the helm of The Fugard Theatre, Daniel now offers his Executive Management experience, Mentorship & Training, Consultancy Services and Lighting Design to the Theatre Industry, among others.

Daniel acts as General Manager & Associate Producer alongside Julie-Anne McDowell Hegarty who founded How Now Brown Cow Productions, alongside the How Now Brown Cow Writers’ Collective.

Daniel is currently the interim CEO of Cape Town’s The College of Magic, and is the International Producing Partner for London based Blue Paper Touch Productions, founded by Katharine Farmer.

Daniel is a proud Associate of the recently launched Tsikinya-Chaka Centre at WITS.

Neil Coppen

Neil Coppen is one of South Africa’s most renowned and prolific storytellers working across mediums and disciplines including those of theatre, film, dance and journalism. Coppen has won several major awards for his writing, design and direction work including Naledi’s, Fiesta and Kanna Awards, the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama 2011 and the 2019 Olive Schreiner Prize for Drama. He is one of the six South African playwrights to have been granted a staged reading of his work at The Royal Court Theatre.

Some of Neil’s most acclaimed works include Tin Bucket Drum (Published by Wits University Press), Tree Boy, Abnormal Loads (published by Junkets), Izipopolo, and NewFoundLand (published by Junkets) and his all-female adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm which toured South Africa for over five-years. He also co-directed and designed Cape Town Opera’s premiere of Tsotsi- The musical and in early 2020 collaborated with Canadian First Nations dance company Red Sky Productions in Toronto on the premiere of a new work titled AF.

Seminal to Coppen’s work across a range of cultures and communities in South Africa, is a social-justice, theatre-making methodology titled Empatheatre which Coppen co-founded and created with actress Mpume Mthombeni and sociologist Dr Dylan McGarry. Empatheatre has been heralded for its unique approach which sees the Empatheatre team forging creative responses to complex social concerns while uniting a range of stakeholders including policy-makers, citizens, artists, musicians, activists, human- rights lawyers and academics. Empatheatre has been responsible for launching several ground-breaking theatre projects over the last decade in South Africa including Soil & Ash (focusing on rural communities facing pressure from coal-mining companies), Ulwembu (street-level Drug addiction and harm reduction advocacy), The Last Country (female migration stories), Boxes (homelessness and Urban land justice inequalities in the city of Cape Town) and Lalela ulwandle (an international project supporting sustainable transformative governance of our oceans).

Coppen is currently in the process of completing two books, developing several screenplay projects and directing an online performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for DGC.

Bianca Amato

Bianca was born in South Africa and studied at the University of Cape Town. Bianca is an award-winning actor, acting coach and director who has returned to South Africa after working in the theatre in New York City for fifteen years.

Television work includes: Our Girl, The Kissing Booth 2, The River, Warrior, Law and Order SVU, Elementary, Powers (Recurring), Alpha House (recurring), Unforgettable, The Big C (recurring), Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Sex and The City, Isidingo (series regular), “The Adventures of Sinbad, Gegen Den Wind.

Her Broadway experiences include: Macbeth, Arcadia, and the Tony award-winning Tom Stoppard trilogy The Coast of Utopia. Her Off-Broadway work includes Stupid Fucking Bird (Emma) at the Pearl, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek (Elmarie) at The Signature Theater, King Lear (Regan) and The Broken Heart (Calantha) at Theater For a New Audience, Neva ( Olga Knipper) at The Public Theater, The Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolin) at BAM, Trumpery at The Atlantic Theater, and Mr. Fox: A Rumination at The Signature. Other American experiences include playing Amanda in Private Lives (Elliot Norton Award for Best Actress, Emory Battis Award For Classical Excellence, Helen Hayes and IRNE nomination for Best Actress) at both The Huntington and The Shakespeare Theater, Kate in the The Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare theater, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at PPT, Lady Croom in Arcadia at CTC, and As You Like It (Rosalind), Pygmalion (Eliza Doolittle), Pride And Prejudice (Elizabeth) and Topgirls ( Marlene), all at the Guthrie Theater. International theater work includes Proof, Greek (Vita Award), Kindertransport, A Doll’s House, and Under Milkwood (Fleur du Cap award).

Bianca is an award-winning narrator of over 70 Audiobooks. She is also an acting and dialect coach for stage and television. Bianca is also in the process of forming The Quickening Theatre Company, which will focus primarily on performing Shakespeare in a South African context.

Buhle Ngaba

Buhle Ngaba is a multi-award winning South African actor, writer, speaker and arts activist. She studied Acting and Contemporary performance at Rhodes University and Processes of Performance at the University of Leeds (UK). She performed in the world premiere of John Kani’s play Missing at the Baxter Theatre (SA) and went on to tour internationally with the production earning her national nominations for “Best Supporting Actress” for both the Fleur Du Cap Theatre Awards and the Naledi Theatre Awards.

In 2016, Ngaba won the prestigious Brett Goldin Bursary, which earned her opportunity to expand her knowledge of Shakespeare and acting ability at The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK). It is during her time there, that Ngaba began to conceptualise and write her award-winning one-woman play – Swan Song.

In 2018, she played Bianca in an all-women cast of The Taming of the Shrew for the annual Maynardville Theatre (SA) offering, solidifying the experience she had gained at the RSC and her yearning to teach what she had learnt. These experiences resulted in her curating Shakespeare Grounded; a programme consolidating all she learnt whilst at the RSC with the aim of teaching these skills to young learners in South Africa. The programme facilitates access to Shakespeare through a practical approach between teacher and student. The programme can be adjusted to suit any number of pupils and is inclusive of all students. Since its inception, Ngaba has implemented it at the University of Cape Town (2018/19) and at AFDA Film School (2020).

She was nominated to form part of the Shakespeare Society of South Africa’s Executive Committee (Theatre portfolio, 2020). COVID-19 has impacted the performing artists globally. In response to this, Ngaba spearheaded the #lockdownshakespeare initiative with the South African Shakespeare Society, contributing to the SA arts economy by promoting theatre makers and helping to provide some financial support.

In 2017, she won two South African Kanna Theatre Awards including Best Upcoming Artist for Swan Song. Buhle was nominated for a Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award (2018) for Best Leading Actress for her performance in What Remains, written by Nadia Davids and directed by Jay Pather.

In 2016, Buhle was named as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans and voted number 1 in The Superbalist Top 100 Entrepreneur List. She also received the Gauteng Youth Premier’s Award for Excellence. Through KaMatla NPO, Buhle seeks to promote diversity in children’s literature, aid the development of the arts and promote storytelling. Her book The Girl Without A Sound has been published in all 11 SA official languages.

In 2019, Buhle was awarded the “Rising Light” award at the Mbokodo Awards for Women in the Arts. Through her acting, writing and inspiring work, Buhle empowers others, especially the youth, to find their own voices in a world where they are often disempowered and dismissed.

Ngaba has most recently been awarded the 2021/22 artists Pro-Helvetia Swiss studio residency, a fellowship at The Centre for Humanities Research (UWC, 2021) and is the 2021 artist in resident at the Tsikinya – Chaka Centre for Shakespeare, Transnationalism and Multilingualism.

Christine Skinner
082 855 7277

Neil Coppen
Neil Coppen