Delegates from 17 International and five South African universities attended this conference, which considered the topic, “Shakespeare and Social Justice: Scholarship and Performance in an Unequal World”. St Andrew’s College and DSG teachers, Mrs Louella Sullivan and Mr Andrew Renard were fortunate enough to join the conference.
The undoubted highlights were an address by respected actor John Kani, in which he spoke of his experiences of acting in Shakespeare’s plays and his performance afterwards in Kunene and the King alongside Sir Antony Sher.
In all, 32 papers were presented over six sessions at the conference. Andrew Renard, in collaboration with Lauren Schwartz of the United Herzlia Schools, presented the paper, ‘Social Justice and Qualities of Mercy’ in which they considered how Shakespeare created the opportunities to consider concepts of ‘othering’, forgiveness and restorative justice. Their study focussed on the plays The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure with strong emphasis on the difference between the justice meted out on Shylock in the former play and Angelo in the latter.
As the only school teachers invited to present a paper, they more than managed to hold their own amongst the academics. At the end of the session, the convener Susan Bennett’s first question was whether she could ‘borrow’ some of their presentation to use with her students in Calgary.
With the introduction of A Level studies in English Literature and Language, the importance of staff attending conferences of this nature cannot be underestimated and hopefully the knowledge gained will help our pupils in preparation for these challenging examinations.