Symposium on Global Shakespeare
Department: Shakespeare CenterDate and Time: January 19, 2018 | 12:00 PM-6:00 PM
Event Location: HG1010
This special afternoon on Global Shakespeare features a a talk by South African choreographer and artist-scholar Jay Pather who has adapted Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as Qaphela Caesar (Beware Caesar) to the South African political context, and presented it in site-specific locations as well as a proscenium theater venue.
Shakespeare in South Africa: contested terrain with unexpected pleasures
Pather's talk will be followed by presentations by three UCI graduate students and recent PhDs: Letty Garcia (Drama), Anandi Rao (Comparative Literature) and Sheiba Kian Kaufman (English).
The place of the work and legacy of William Shakespeare in a postcolonial space or one in the throes of decolonization such as South Africa is predictably a contested one. Nonetheless, the range and presentations of works by Shakespeare continue to be as prolific as ever from the annual staging of a Shakespeare play in Cape Town’s, outdoor Maynardville Theatre to the presence of Shakespearean text as central in the curriculum of University Departments from Drama through to English Literature and Poetry.
My production Qaphela Caesar (Beware Caesar) explores this contestation. In the first instance I found relevance in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in South Africa’s current, tenuous political system post the rainbow nation of Nelson Mandela. In the second instance through parody and satire I question at the same time the existence of this reference. This twin impulse has occupied other works such as my productions of The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice. Dubbed ‘a multi-media massacre of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I use dance theatre, text, video art, visual installations and sound designs to evoke a layered approach to the presence of such a work in the post colony. The politicised sites for the work which moved from the Cape Town City Hall through to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the State Theatre in Pretoria also provided much inspiration for this tension. Commissioned to create the work for the Durban City Hall and then met with debilitating funding difficulties from the state and city structures, we were unable to stage the full work. I nevertheless created a new work Caesar Interrupted, a comment on disruption, power and political fragmentation with Shakespeare’s text casting a long shadow.
The address will investigate the genesis and evolution of the impulses behind these various works. I examine issues of deconstruction, decolonization with reference to current movements in South Africa, collaboration with visual and sound artists, text, dance and mixed media, site specific theatre and the pursuit of fluid, porous, self-reflexive theatrical forms in the staging of traditional texts. The address will be accompanied by audio visual material.
Jay Pather is director of the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) at the University of Cape Town where he is an Associate Professor. He is curator for the Infecting the City Festival; the ICA Live Art Festival, the Afrovibes Festival (Amsterdam and UK), co-curator for performance art for Spielart Festival (Munich) and Artistic Director for Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, now in its twenty first year. For ICA, Pather has created structures for interdisciplinary collaboration in the form of Fellowships, a Post Graduate Programme in Live Art, public lecture programmes and interdisciplinary events on a range of subjects, comprising lectures, panel discussion, exhibitions and performance.
His research and artistic work deploys site-specific, interdisciplinary and intercultural strategies to frame postcolonial imaginaries and matters of social justice. Recent work includes Qaphela Caesar, a deconstruction of Julius Caesar, at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in downtown Johannesburg rite, a re-imagining of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, choreography for the Firebird and design and direction for Nadia Davids’ What Remains. Recent publications include articles in New Territories: Theatre, Drama, and Performance in Post-apartheid South Africa edited by Marc Meaufort; Changing Metropolis ll edited by Marie Polli; Rogue Urbanism edited by Edgar Pieterse and Abdul Malik Simone; Performing Cities edited by Nicholas Whybrow and Theater Journal. He serves as a juror for the International Award for Public Art and on the Board of the National Arts Festival of South Africa. He is recipient of the Living Legends Award, a Creative Collections Award from the National Institute for Humanities and a Creative Art Award from UCT. In 2016 he was appointed Fellow at the University of London and made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture
Contact: Ketu Katrak (Drama) and Julia Lupton (English)
Co-sponsored by the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, the Department of Drama, and Illuminations.