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PRESS: 13TH SHAKESPEARE SCHOOLS FESTIVAL back at the Star Theatre in District Six this MAY

Allison Foat


The 13th Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSFSA) has announced its longest season yet with the upcoming event taking place over three weeks at the Star Theatre in District Six from May 8 to 27, 2023.

This will mark the third time that the SSFSA has taken place at this wonderful venue situated within the District Six Homecoming Centre in the historical heart of Cape Town.

With 38 confirmed groups performing the Bard’s works over 17 days, this years fest - themed Unplugged and Illuminated in 2023! -  will once again light up the stage as the SSFSA showcases burgeoning young South African talent. Says festival founder and CEO Kseniya Filinova-Bruton, “As a team, we are passionate about building optimism especially post-pandemic, to share hope for the future in what many find to be an unsettling time. The SSFSA is a catalyst for youth empowerment and over more than a decade we have developed a non-competitive, fully inclusive environment where school-going youth can build confidence, improve on life skills and have their voices are heard, acknowledged, encouraged, challenged and respected.” Importantly too, the festival  welcomes Learners with different abilities and physical challenges such as the De La Bat School for the Deaf and the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired who, like their peers, continue to deliver ground-breaking and moving theatre year after year. 

One of the unique aspects of this fest is that the Shakespeare plays are no more than 30 minutes in duration. The full range of Shakespeare plays is on offer with texts also available in isiXhosa, .. and being given free reign over their pared back productions. Imaginations run wild and young people innovate wonderfully with their own props, costumes, sets and interpretations. “ We love how casts turn a play on its head and ‘own’, always thinking out the box!"  says Managing Director Blythe Stuart-Linger. Young people have reported coming out of the festival experience with improved soft skills and many have also reported a better understanding of the English language, which empowers them to walk into their exams more confidently!

Throughout the preparation process, the SSFSA team is also on hand to assist with scripts, acting and directing tips with a number of educational programs established in the lead-up, to benefit educators, learner-directors and casts.  

The SSFSA has grown into Africa's largest youth drama festival event with a purely Shakespeare focus. Across the provinces - the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape - 29,578 audiences have watched 582 plays by 661 schools performed by 12,435 Learners, since 2009.  The festival has also built the capacity of 693 teachers as drama and performance art directors, and worked with 43 guest and student directors and 38 volunteer directors and facilitators. At one stage the festival was presented in other countries as well such as Malawi, Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia. 

The Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa 2023 is open for registration to Durban, George and Johannesburg participants and all interested youth drama groups, organisations, schools, and educators are invited to register by 30 April 2023. All further info is on | . After the Cape Town season, the festival will be presented in Johannesburg, George and KZN in September 2023, details to be announced. 

Booking is open for the 2023 festival with performances starting at 7:30pm and tickets costing R110pp, available through Quicket:


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