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Shakespeare Club: A chance for kids to boost English skills

by Tania Griffin

This term, school learners in Gauteng have a chance to turbocharge their English ability, learn drama and understand the power of Shakespeare – one of the most important writers in the English language – at the National Children’s Theatre’s (NCT) Saturday Shakespeare Club.

NCT’s Shakespeare Club is run throughout the year by master Shakespearian, Dr Rohan Quince. It is open to all children from Grades 6–12 (ages 11–17) who can read and are interested in Shakespeare’s plays – and who want to improve their Shakespeare grades at school. 

This year’s theme is King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. The play tells the tale of the ancient British King Lear who, in his old age, seeks to divide his kingdom between his daughters, with dramatic consequences. It is acknowledged as one of the greatest Shakespeare plays and is often prescribed as a set work. The club has focused on King Lear’s fatal flaw – a lack of self-knowledge – and how this fatal flaw is his undoing.

William Shakespeare, also known as “The Bard of Avon”, was active around 1600, but his plays have proven incredibly influential. The English language still uses many terms and phrases he introduced, and to this day Hollywood movies are still based on, or influenced by, Shakespearean plays. 

“Being familiar with Shakespeare, his language and its delivery will give young learners a great advantage in their English studies, which usually include a Shakespeare set work in the higher grades,” says NCT CEO Tamara Guhrs. “Working in teams on powerful works like his also teaches creativity, collaboration and interpretation.”

NCT’s Shakespeare Club reads four Shakespeare plays a year, holds a Shakespeare Quiz to improve children’s knowledge, and runs an annual Shakespeare Monologue competition to develop performance ability. At the end of each year, the club runs its annual Shakespeare Showcase for parents, families and friends.

The fourth-term schedule runs until 3 December, and it is still open for admission. The course builds to the showcase for parents, families and friends on 3 December, 12h00 to 14h00. The cost of the course is R1 900 per term, and the club takes place every Saturday, from 12h00 to 14h00.

To register for Shakespeare Club, email angie@nctheatresa.org.za or call 011 484 1584 or 071 429 2570.

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