William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)[1] is an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and perhaps the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His influence on South Africa has been profound, as indeed it has been throughout the Empire and the world.

The playwright

The conventional biography of Shakespeare is that he was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, married Anne Hathaway at age 18, and then began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men, then retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. However, since so few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, there is much uncertainty about the truth of this version, and Shakespearean authorship question[2] is still very actively pursued today.

The surviving works ascribed to William Shakespeare, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, two epitaphs on a man named John Combe, one epitaph on Elias James, and several other poems.

Most of Shakespeare's plays have multiple names assigned to them in the various manuscripts, from full titles with elaborate subtitles, to short, abbreviated titles. In ESAT we follow the general convention of using the shortened titles, (e.g. Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, etc.).

Shakespeare in South Africa

Performances and adaptations of his plays in South Africa

His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. imported into South Africa under colonial rule, his works have frequently been performed here by amateurs, professionals, schools and universities. Numerous translations and adaptations of the works have also been created in South Africa, in most of the 10 indigenous languages as well..

South African Shakespearian associations, societies and other organizations

There is a national Shakespeare Society of South Africa, which publishes the journal Shakespeare in Southern Africa

The Shakespeare Circle: There are a number of such organizations in various cities.

The Port Elizabeth Shakespearian Festival

The Maynardville Shakespeare Festival

South African Shakespearian scholars


Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography





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