Preview: Festival alert- bumper edition for the 12th Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa- May 6 to September 18, 2022

Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSFSA)

When: May 6 to September 18, 2022- four provinces  

Cape Town May 6-14 at the D6 Theatre, District Six August 10-20 at the Baxter Theatre, Rondebosch
Johannesburg ~September 6-11 at the Joburg Theatre
George ~ September 9-11 and 16-18 at The Dotsure George Arts Theatre
Durban ~ September 13-17 at The Playhouse in Durban    

#SSFSA2022 #shakespearefestivalSA  

Brilliant news is that Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSFSA) is happening in 2022 – and it’s a bumper event. This is the 12th edition of SSFSA. The festival will be rolled out in three phases across four provinces (Cape Town, Joburg, George and Durban), between May 6 and September 18, 2022. I was fortunate to attend the opening of #SSFSA in March 2020, at what was then the Fugard Theatre (now the D6 Museum) and was bowled over by the exuberance, creativity and originality of the work that was presented that night. Last year (2021), despite the challenges of Covid and restrictive lockdown regulations, the festival was staged in Cape Town and once again I was wowed by the productions and the care that the SSFSA team took with keeping its young patrons safe and its passion and commitment to make Shakespeare a thrilling experience for learners- with all the challenges of the pandemic. The festival also made content available, online, for schools and kept the festival very much on the boards. There was tremendous interest to take part in the festival for 2022 and the organisers responded with #SSFSA2022- an epic iteration of the festival. Thrilling news is that the Cape Town leg will be made up of two seasons- at the D6 Theatre in District Six (formerly the Fugard) and the 2nd at the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch. Read on for more. Info as supplied:

The 12th Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa is back! 

In exciting theatre news, the 12th Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSFSA) has announced that it will be back in full force this year and, due to increased demand by schools all over the country, it will be presented in three phases across several provinces for the first time ever, between May 6 and September 18, 2022.

The first two seasons will be in Cape Town, kicking off at the D6 Theatre in District Six followed by the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch in May and August respectively. This will be followed by festival runs in George, Johannesburg and Durban in September 2022.

Festival founder Kseniya Filinova-Bruton is thrilled that the SSFSA will open at the D6 Theatre, formally known as the Fugard Theatre. “The 2020 SSFSA closed on the eve of South Africa’s first major lockdown at the former Fugard Theatre, so it is especially wonderful to be back at the iconic venue that is now under a new management.”

The SSFSA is an excellent way to strengthen the link between the Arts and Education while uniting and empowering youth from across socio-economic spectrum and using the transformational power of theatre, and specifically the works of Shakespeare to achieve that goal. From the start, the SSFSA has been a highlight on the cultural calendars of school drama groups and youth cultural clubs and being able to hold the event after stressful lockdowns and the closure of some theatre venues in South Africa is hugely positive and very exciting for the young people taking part. “Live performances mean the world to enthusiastic school-going Shakespeareans who benefit enormously from being able to perform onstage in front of a live audience and connect in person with other Learners from other schools and diverse different backgrounds. It’s a great morale booster,” said Filinova-Bruton.

The SSFSA festival has grown into Africa’s largest youth drama event that focuses solely on Shakespeare plays. Since 2009, the SSFSA has showcased 518 Shakespeare plays across the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, has worked with 10,866 learners from 597 schools, and bolstered 764 teachers in their capacity as drama and performance arts directors. The festival is a novel way for young thespians to explore their dramatic potential non-competitively in a fun, developmental way and promotes life skills as it spotlights literacy, classic literature and live theatre. 

Joining in this year at the D6 Theatre in Cape town will be Parel Vallei High School, Parklands College, Fish Hoek Primary School, Wynberg Boys’ Acting Association, Pioneer School for the visually impaired, Hermanus High School, Curro Century City High, South Peninsula High School, Westerford High School, Darul Arqam Islamic High School, Wynberg Boys’ Junior School, Rhenish Girls’ High School, Leiden Secondary School, Athlone High School, Education drama group.

At the Baxter Theatre in August, the following schools will be performing, namely Westlake Primary School, Greenfield Girls’ Primary, Worcester Gymnasium, Herschel Girls School, Trinity Classical Christian School, Curro Somerset West Primary School, De La Bat School for the deaf, Blouberg International School, Hout Bay International School, Christel House South Africa, Generation Sandown Middle School, Generation Sandown High School, Hoërskool Swartland, The Settlers High School, The Settlers Secondary School, Queen’s Park High School, Hoërskool Strand and Educations drama group.  

For the festival, schools are asked to present innovative, abridged versions of a Shakespeare play of their choice, approximately thirty minutes in duration. Casts are encouraged to re-imagine, adapt and ‘turn the play on its head’ by taking the themes of the play and making it relatable to themselves and their peers. Staging a Shakespeare play is a challenge no matter if one is amateur or professional and with that in mind, the SSFSA assists with scripts, acting and directing tips, and runs a number of educational programs alongside to benefit educators, emerging learner-directors and casts.  

Importantly, the festival also welcomes Learners with different abilities and physical challenges. The De La Bat School for the Deaf participates regularly using South African Sign Language and each year they deliver ground-breaking and moving renditions of the play of their choice. Audiences have also witnessed moving performances by the Pioneer School for the blind and visually impaired. 

The 12th Shakespeare Schools Festival 2022- dates are as follows: May 6-14 at the D6 Theatre; August 10-20 the Baxter Theatre. The SSFSA in Johannesburg runs at the Joburg Theatre September 6 to 11, and September 9 to 11 and 16 to 18 at The Dotsure George Arts Theatre in George, and at The Playhouse in Durban from September 13 to 17.

Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa: Photo of Darul Arqam Islamic High School- at the 2020 festival – shortly before lockdown – at what was then The Fugard Theatre. Pic: Mike Leresche. The 2022 edition of SSFA is on in South Africa from May 6 to September 18, 2022-Cape Town, Joburg, George and Durban.

Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSFSA) on social media

Twitter: @Edu_Cape @EducapeKseniya 
Instagram: @edu_cape  

#shakespearefestivalSA #SSFSA2022 – May 6 to September 18, 2022- Cape Town, Joburg, George and Durban

✳ Sponsored content. Pica by Mike Leresche – supplied. Featured image: De La Bat School for the Deaf- from the 2020 SSFSA,

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SSFSA 2021 preview:

SSFA 2021 interview:

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