Double treat from the Bard

bryan-hiles-cara-roberts-in-hamlet-pic-by-val-adamson
Bryan Hiles and Cara Roberts in Think Theatre’s touring production of Hamlet, aimed at school audiences. Pictures by Val Adamson

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BY BILLY SUTER

TODAY (February 2) marks the start of another marathon series of performances by Durban’s hard-working Think Theatre company which annually performs Shakespearean plays for school audiences studying the works.

This year, after many years of annually performing Othello, the company, in association with The Playhouse Company, will present that classic drama as well as a new staging of Hamlet, as both plays are school set works.

These two plays, which are among the most celebrated of all human dramas ever to be created for the English stage, will run in tandem with successive seasons in Hilton and Durban in February and March, says publicist William Charlton-Perkins of Copydog.

“They will also tour to a number of country venues in KwaZulu-Natal, during this period, before transferring to Gauteng for runs in Johannesburg and Pretoria in May.”

chris-van-rensburg-as-iago-with-nhlakanipho-manqele-as-othello-pic-by
Chris van Rensburg as Iago and Nhlakanipho Manqele as Othello in Think Theatre’s Othello.

Hamlet and Othello will first play at the Hilton College Theatre in Hilton between February 2 and 10, before moving to the Playhouse Drama in Durban between February 13 and March 24. Schools performances in each venue will be from Mondays to Fridays, at 9am and noon daily.

A public evening performance of Hamlet will be at the Playhouse at 7pm on Wednesday, March 1. Tickets for this cost R120 (adults) with concessions available for students and pensioners.

Performances will also be in Dundee on February 27, Newcastle on February 28, Richards Bay on March 22 and Port Shepstone on March 23.

Bookings are essential. All bookings for Think Theatre’s national tour are through Doreen Stanley at 033-343 4884 or 084 556 0668, Fax: 086 402 9592 or 033 343 4884, or email doreen@thinktheatre.co.za.

With its varied themes of racism, love, jealousy and betrayal, Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Othello remains as relevant to present-day audiences as it ever was, states a press release.

Multi-award-winning director, writer, teacher and actress, Clare Mortimer, once again directs a star-studded cast to provide an action-packed performance that helps pupils to understand and enjoy Shakespeare.

With her wealth of experience as a matric English teacher – both in private and government schools – Clare has cleverly kept this production (as well as Hamlet) to a manageable two hours, closely following all the relevant themes pupils need to know, explains the release.

Durban Theatre Award-winner Nhlakanipho Manqele reprises his interpretation of the play’s tragic title role, with Cara Roberts again returning as his ill-fated young wife, Desdemona.

The cast – headed by Chris van Rensburg, with a chilling portrayal of the villainous Iago. and Mortimer as his wife. Emilia – features Michael Gritten, Marc Kay, Bryan Hiles, Rowan Bartlett and Darren King. Kirsty Ndawo makes her role debut as Bianca.

Much cited as Shakespeare’s greatest work, Hamlet centres on themes of death, betrayal, greed, murder and revenge. Often described as a typical “revenge play”, any careful study reveals it to be very much more.

clare-mortimer-michael-gritten-in-hamlet-photographed-by-val-adamson
Clare Mortimer as Gertrude and Michael Gritten as Claudius in Think Theatre’s touring Hamlet.

“Does a good and purposeful life on earth triumph? Are vile and criminal acts always punished? Further, what is the purpose of our lives in the time we are given if decency has the same end as treachery?

“These questions are valid today – in our homes, our schools and among our leaders. Mortimer takes the reins, and audiences can be certain of a complete production, with full sets and costume, and the greatest of care given to the text.”

Expect to see a few familiar faces and some fresh ones in Hamlet.

Multi-award-winner Bryan Hiles takes the title role of the tragic Prince of Denmark, with Cara Roberts appearing as the tragic young heroine, Ophelia.

Mortimer plays Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, with Claudius, Hamlet’s treacherous step father, portrayed by Michael Gritten. Hamlet’s friend Horatio is played by Nhlakanipho Manqele with Darren King as Polonius and his son Laertes performed by Marc Kay.

The production also features Chris van Rensburg, Rowan Barlett, ‘Straw’ Nzimande and Kirsty Ndawo.

“Supported by The University of Johannesburg, Think Theatre’s Hamlet and Othello are two invaluable teaching tools with dynamic performance, both educational and entertainment, and are not to be missed.”

For further information contact Doreen on 084 556 0668 or Margie on 083 251 9412.  If they are unable to answer your call please send a text message with your request, your name and your school’s name.

Hamlet and Othello will go on to play at the University of Johannesburg from May 8 to 19, and at the Brooklyn Theatre in Pretoria from May 22 to 26. Outreach performances at Pretoria University, from May 29  to June 2, have yet to be confirmed.


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