Monday, November 19, 2012

HAMLET in a South African Prison

Taking “Shakespeare Inside” Out, Colette Gordon Talks to Tauriq Jenkins about Hamlet in prison and a “first for South African theater”

In December 2011, in a community hall in Cape Town, youth awaiting trial in Cape Town from Ottery Youth Care Centre performed their version of Hamlet—created, rehearsed, and performed inside the institution, for one time only before the public and outside incarcerated space.

Performances like this are rarely seen. Shakespeare prison projects tend to allow only fleeting glimpses of performance “inside.” Mickey B, which Ramona Wray wrote about in the fall 2011 special issue of Shakespeare Quarterly, with a follow-up interview with the director in the SQ Forum, is one exception. Through the Educational Shakespeare Company’s film project, prisoners at Belfast’s Maghaberry Prison were able to produce a full-length adaptation of Macbeth which was then screened for audiences outside the prison.

In the case of Hamlet, performed by incarcerated youth in Cape Town, actors and audience experienced a live performance that took both groups away from the prison and expectations of prison Shakespeare.

I interviewed the director, Tauriq Jenkins, about the role and importance of this work and about Shakespeare in a South African context of incarceration.
—Colette Gordon


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