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This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa, a remarkable milestone.

From 3 to 14 March, the first round of the annual festival in the Western Cape will be taking place at the Fugard Theatre, one of the Mother City’s most iconic theatre venues that will also be celebrating its first decade this year, and this prestigious association is an invaluable one for the festival.

For the first time, the initial performance showcase will be the longest yet, taking place over 11 days with 34 schools participating from Cape Town and surrounds, including suburbs like Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Westlake, Delft, Bishop Lavis, Pinelands, Athlone, Claremont, Zonnebloom, Wynberg, Swartland, Hermanus, Strand, Hout Bay, Stellenbosch and Worcester.

Other cities the festival will tour to up until September include Johannesburg, Durban, George and Makhanda.

The festival is defined as an educational programme aimed at improving language and social skills through the performing arts. It prides itself on being a fully inclusive event that welcomes all without prejudice, including those facing different abilities and challenges.

In previous festivals, the De La Bat School for the Deaf and the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired delivered groundbreaking and extremely moving renditions of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth respectively.

The festival, pioneered by its founder, Kseniya Filinova-Bruton, has the objective of strengthening the link between the arts and education.

The festival has grown from an event with 20 participants to one that attracts more than 2,000 each year across the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape – and that number is growing every year.

Schools prepare and perform 30-minute abridged versions of the Shakespeare play of their choice and their interpretations are incredible.

Throughout the preparation process, the festival also provides guidance and resource through scripts, training and feedback that equips pupils and teachers to successfully direct and perform their Shakespearean plays from the first line to the final bow.

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