Shakespeare in Southern Africa

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Much Ado About …” multiple directorial readings across histories and cultures

Deborah Lutge


Four productions of Much Ado About Nothing performed at the 2016 Folkwang Shakespeare Festival elicited comparative analogies and socio-culturally distinct identities, evincing national boundaries and directorial concept. The interplay between written text, production text and audience reception qualifies relevance irrespective of creative intention; theatre productions therefore embed political context, shift perspectives on class, gender and philosophy, and re-engage cultural shifts by reshaping discourses and challenging patriarchal systems, hierarchies and gender narratives. Context, pivotal in connecting agency and ownership across histories and cultures, narrativises a realignment of paradigms. Construction, deconstruction and reconstruction all signify points of departure from boundaries and traditional restrictiveness. In reinterpreting a Shakespearean text, dialogism acknowledges the shifts in interpretative counterpoints and negotiates how reinterpretations function as valuable social signifiers. Reflecting on her experience of directing a South African Much Ado, the author poses various questions: In multiple readings, is it possible to remain true to the intentions of the originating text? Is theatrical authenticity owed to writer, artistic rereading or audience? In reimagining a world splintered by what is articulated, recalculated or rephrased, who owns transmission? In appropriated canonical texts, are colonially entrenched notions remarginalising or narrativising diasporas anew?
AJOL African Journals Online