Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Kasane

| April 21, 2015

London-based, the Globe theatre, brought popular William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet to Kasane as part of their world tour.

Botswana was the 94th country to be visited after Zambia, from the proposed 205 that the group sought to tour. Hamlet was said to be one of Shakespeare’s most popular works during his lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed.

Community members, students, tour operators and government officials were treated to this classic tragedy almost a year after the two-year tour kicked off on April 23, 2014. The tour was started on the 450th anniversary of the writer’s birth.

One of the local organising team members, Mokganedi Ntana who is a Tourism Development Manager at Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) said one of the objectives of the tour was to stage an international show in Kasane as part of showcasing Botswana as a destination of choice.

Ntana said that about 100 Literature and drama students were selected to witness the play and to interact with the cast. Newly opened Seboba Nature and Recreational Park was offered for free to host the play, a first of its kind.

In an interview the coordinator of Chobe Performing Arts group, Rancheke Rancheke said that he appreciated the play and the style of presentation used and also to gauge where Botswana stands in this area.

“I especially loved the sound effects used and the fact that they managed to keep the audience hooked for a long time,” he said. However seeing Seboba packed to capacity was a stuck contrast to their own experience as a theatre group.

“We do not have support from anyone, we perform to empty seats even when we are trying to raise money for competitions,” he lamented.

He expressed disappointment at the level of enthusiasm that was displayed by the district leadership in hosting the international cast when they on the other hand never get any form of support, admitting that people still need to be educated on the value of theatre.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Chobe, Mr Ronald Shamukuni pledged his support to local arts groups and encouraged them to approach his office if they need help.

He appreciated the play but noted that it must have made sense to those who studied literature, however highlighting that there is a lot that local theatre groups can learn from the performance.

“Our groups can pick issues that resonate with people in Chobe and perform along those lines such as anti-poaching,” he said. For his part, Mr Ntana acknowledged that they have not been offering local groups structured support.

“We have established a board where we seat with Chobe Performing Arts group and we are working on getting them established as an association with a functioning constitution because we realized that we were not offering them structured support,” he explained.

He said that local theatre offers an opportunity to diversify Botswana’s tourism product, noting that the group also needed the exposure from such established groups.

One of the actors in the Hamlet play, Mr Matthew Romain said that he was impressed by the fact that locals, especially the youth and students made up the majority of the audience. “We get audiences full of expatriates in some countries, which is great, but that is not the reason why we do this,” he said, adding that their goal is to perform to local audiences of any given country.

He said what he likes about young people is that they are honest, when they laugh it is genuine and so is their silence. After performing around 94 countries, Mr Romain has come to realize that back home they take theatre for granted because it is in abundance.

“We have seen countries that have little theatre and those that have none, and this has made us appreciate the need for it,” he said.

Regarding Botswana where people are still getting used to the idea of theatre, Mr Romain aised that getting children interested in theatre at a young age would be worthwhile as they would grow the local industry both as performers and as an appreciative audience.

His message for local artists is that if people do not attend or support theatrical performances, artists must take theatre to the people.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: News

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