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Saturday, March 12, 2016


(Holly Gxubane, Thandeka Shangase & Spokazi Poswa. Pic by Val Adamson)

An innovating telling of one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies will be staged at the Durban University of Technology’s Courtyard Theatre for a short season, before heading off the Germany as part of an innovative global exchange / research programme to honour the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Prof Debbie Lutge designs and directs a cast of 12 third and second year DUT Drama and Production students. Michael Broderick is responsible for the lighting.

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play by William Shakespeare - generally considered one of Shakespeare's most enduring comedies combining elements of robust hilarity with more serious meditations on honour, shame, and court politics.

The DUT version travels to Essen-Werden in Germany to join productions from Krakow Poland; Melbourne Australia; Germany and Durban. It is the first production from Africa to take part in this innovative international Shakespeare project. They will perform at the Wolkwang Shakespeare Festival to which participants must be invited to produce collaborative art.

The participants all perform exactly the same Shakespeare uniquely interpreted by individual global directors then merge and produce the same Shakespeare once again with all directors and international casts collaborating. “In terms of practice-based research, sharing unique interpretations and further exploring the cultural and global collaborative exchange will prove an invaluable artistic and reflective process” said Lutge.

“Our production is centred in acknowledging African artistic roots with sets and stage floor comprised of cardboard boxes painted in fluorescent quasi-Ndebele designs, costumes fusing contemporary and traditional designs, an occasional isiZulu translation, gumboot through to pansula dance, and a fusion of traditional and original contemporary African songs. This production’s exploratory process involved the creativity of the student cast, derived a workshop process where cast explored text and history, workshopped creating original songs and choreographing dances as well as painting their own designs on sets designed by myself,’ she adds.

Masintle Mokoena, a third year Drama and Production Studies student worked with Lutge to design all the African costumes and to Lutge’s delight made all the costumes in the show. Senzo Mabanga, a second year Drama and Production student came on board as choirmaster for the singers and award-winning professional lighting designer Michael Broderick (a former graduate) designed the lights, so this is a DUT production showcasing DUT creativity. Rev Siza Mthembu and Mdu Mtshali, both former graduates who now teach in the Department, assisted in tightening the isiZulu and choreography respectively with Richardt Wissink checking the singing.

The cast of 12 includes Beatrice and Benedict (played by Holly Gxubane and Sfundo Maphumulo), Hero/Margaret and Claudius (Spokazi Poswa/Thandeka Shangase and Vuyolwethu Tshambula). Leonato is played by Andile Tevin Nsibande and Prince Don Pedro by Kwenzokuhle Ngcobo (who featured as Peron in the 2013 EVITA! staged in the Playhouse Drama). Dogberry and Verges are played by Thobani Nzuza and Nkanyiso Shezi. Don John is played by Thembinkosi Mthembu, Conrad by Malusi Mkhonza and Borachio by Zuzumuzi Mdamba.

The Festival happens every two years and this is the eighth time the festival is being held. “This year marks 400 years since the death of Shakespeare who died in April so the April festival in Essen-Werden is a significant one and we are indeed honoured to be one of the invited participants. Our participation was made possible by our VC Prof Ahmed Bawa’s approval, a phenomenal leader, with the vision to recognize the honour bestowed and the determination to facilitate the international exchange,” says Lutge.

The show runs from March 14 to 18 nightly at 19h00 at the Courtyard Theatre (Steve Biko/Mansfield Road) and thereafter travels to Germany. On returning, the show has been invited to feature as part of the Uhuru Festival at Wushwini.

For more information contact the Departmental Secretary, Lebohang Sibisi on 031 373 2194 or email: