Shakespeare comes out of quarantine


Makhanda’s Shakespeare Society usually meets about eight times a year to enjoy Shakespeare’s plays in a variety of ways.

“We read them together, watch video productions, hear lectures, and teach them  in schools,” explains co-ordinator Lynette Paterson.

The Covid-19 lockdown put a damper on the organisation’s live meetings in 2020, but they’ve decided to bring the tradition of the Birthday Lecture alive and end Shakespeare’s ‘self isolation’.

“We hope to do so in a manner that accommodates those who do not feel ready to venture out, and those who are keen to resume social and cultural life — with due caution of course,” Paterson wrote to members.

The  annual flagship event is a public lecture, the Shakespeare Birthday Lecture held in April. Members of the public are invited to attend this year’s edition on Tuesday 20 April – either in person (for a limited number of 40 who need to RSVP) or by Zoom.

Titled ‘Shakespeare and Mining in South Africa’, it will be presented by Professor Christopher Thurman (University of the Witwatersrand).

The local group is a branch of a national organisation ( The home page opens with the question, ‘What does Shakespeare mean to you?’

“For many people, ‘Shakespeare’ is a word that carries all the wrong associations,” it continues.

“A source of high school trauma; a famous author whose work has to be studied even though it seems obscure. A figure who is simultaneously sacrosanct and irrelevant, profound but inaccessible, brilliant but boring. Shakespeare is also often linked to colonialism, elitism and ‘Englishness’.

“But Shakespeare, in South Africa and around the world, can be much more than this!”

Their goals include promoting the work of South African theatre-makers, film-makers, translators, researchers and writers engaging with Shakespeare and to “take academic ideas out of the “ivory tower”.

Support for teachers is an important part of the group’s work.

For more information about the talk or the local branch of the Shakespeare Society, email


‘Shakespeare and Mining in South Africa’ by Professor Christopher Thurman
Tuesday 20 April at 6.30pm-7.30pm
St Andrew’s College Auditorium (off the Library foyer)
In-person attendance limited to 40 and all Covid protocols will be observed.
RSVP is essential to limit numbers: ( indicating numbers.


The (live) Zoom link will be:
Note: Please mute yourself by clicking on the icon at lower left of your picture once the lecture begins.
Tip: Enter the Zoom session ten minutes or so before the lecture is due to begin.

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