NCT and SACCEE collaborate
“All’s the world’s a stage” – NCT’s Shakespeare Festival.
“O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent against me for your merriment!” cries Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream! It seems that all the actors who took part in National Children’s Theatre’s Shakespeare Festival were conspiring for our merriment, and there were many chuckles among the audience over the three days! Other performers were less sanguine. “I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes,” sobbed Lady Anne in Richard III, and we wept with her.
After an unfortunate break last year, the annual collaboration between National Children’s Theatre and the South African Council for English Education resumed in 2021. The Shakespeare Festival and Monologue Competition took place in the new outdoor Imagination Theatre at NCT on 11-13 May 2021.
There were entries from eight schools and clubs, including King Edward VII School, Jeppe High School for Boys, St Stithians Girls College, Willowmoore High School, Woodlands International College, St James Preparatory School and St Dominics’ Catholic School for Girls. Eventually fifty-eight monologues and fifteen scenes were performed over the three days of the festival. Eighteen plays and the sonnets were represented. Old favourites like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Hamlet and Othello featured prominently, but it was gratifying to watch extracts from less well-known plays as well, like Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well and The Winter’s Tale.
First place in the Junior Monologue section went to Dhyan Naran from St James for his expressive portrayal of Caliban when he curses the oppressive Prospero in The Tempest! The runner-up was Radhe Bagaloo, also from St James. She delightfully played the Fairy chasing the snakes and spiders away from the Fairy Queen’s bower in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Weaving spiders, come not here!” she scolded, and won our hearts!
There were two winners in the Senior Monologue section: Sidney Benard from St Stithians and Jeb Molteno from Jeppe. Sidney gave a powerful and moving performance as Lady Anne mourning over the coffin of Henry VI in Richard III. Jeb achieved a very contemporary relevance in his humorous rendering of Benedick in As You Like It – why do men fall in love?
Due to the high standard of performances, no less than five runner-up awards were presented. Ektoras Meyer from Willowmoore shone in his portrayal of Cassius in Julius Caesar. Rachelle Weiss gave a subtle and varied rendering of Ophelia’s mad scene in Hamlet. Michael Theron from Jeppe was hilarious as Trinculo discovering Caliban cowering under a cloak in The Tempest. Matthew Greenfield from King Edward gave a lively rendition of Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, torn between listening to his conscience or to the fiend, imaginatively represented by sock puppets! Domineque Rayson from Woodlands showed her versatility in a feisty performance as Emilia in Othello, an early feminist warning to men that “the ills we do, their ills instruct us so!” and then as the scheming and smitten Phoebe in As You Like It.
The runners-up in the Best Scene section were Anda Tenza and Mahlatse Ramadibane from St Dominic’s in a scene from Othello.
First place went to NCT’s Shakespeare Club for their performance of one of the Forest of Arden scenes in As You Like It, which ended with a charming rendition of Shakespeare’s song, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind”. Congratulations to Matthew Rusznyak, Rearabetswe Molope, Simone Greehy, Reynard Vos, Sashin Woolfgaardt, Kajal Khandelwal and Ronelle Silverstone!
Thank you to National Children’s Theatre and the South African Council for English Education for promoting Shakespeare! Well done to all the talented performers and their dedicated teachers for their support.
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