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UNIVERSITY DREAM (article first published : 2001-05-14)

FNB Vita and the Drama and Performance Studies programme at the University of Natal (Durban) have collaborated on a Shakespeare education programme that culminates in a new production of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Professor Mervyn McMurtry and Tamar Meskin.

Ever-popular, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is as up to date today as when it was written. It explores unrequited love and love denied by parents with the added entertainment value of magic, mischief and a hilarious “play within a play” presented by bumbling amateurs.

This production becomes even more up-to-the-minute as it uses elements of contemporary culture such as hip-hop and kwaito as well as rave and the trance experience. The cast is representative of Durban’s vibrant cultural mix and is drawn from all levels in the Drama Programme – from first years through to Master’s students. They will work alongside professional performers to create a production that seeks to popularise Shakespeare and re-introduce him to a whole new and diverse audience.

This is not only a simple presentation of the play. Grade 11 pupils from almost 20 local high schools will be involved on a number of levels through the generous sponsorship of FNB Vita. Workshops are taking place in schools to “de-mythologise” Shakespeare and pupils will attend selected open rehearsals to observe the production process. Certain pupils have already been invited to take part as performers.

The advance publicity offers “a truly unique event” which “promises to be a stimulating and exciting experience for all involved, developing a new, young and diverse audience, whilst still offering a magical theatrical experience.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs in the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre at the University of Natal from May 21 to 30 at 18h00 with an extra performance on May 26 at 14h00.

Tickets R15 (R10 students and scholars) available at the door. More details from Claudette Wagner on (031) 260-3134 (weekdays between 08h30 and 13h00)




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