Friday, 4 November 2016

Special event Memories of Mandela at the British Museum [Friday 13 January 2017, 18.30–20.00 BP Lecture Theatre]

Staged in the auditorium officially opened by Nelson Mandela in 2000, this discussion celebrates and explores the life, character and enduring legacy of the South African leader on his nation and the world.
A panel of speakers whose lives and careers were influenced by the leader includes John Battersby, co-author of Mandela: A Life in Photographs (2011) and author of the Afterword in Mandela: the Authorised Biography by Anthony Sampson (2011), Pumela Salela, Brand South Africa, playwright and theatre director, Matthew Hahn and John Carlin, journalist and author of Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation (2008, adapted into the film Invictus).
Presented in collaboration with South African High Commission.



South Africa: the art of a nation at the British Museum

27 October 2016 - 26 February 2017 

From some of the earliest examples of human creativity to cutting-edge contemporary works, discover the fascinating history of South Africa through art. 

In this exhibition a diverse range of art from across the ages tells a story that stretches back 100,000 years. From rock art made by the country’s earliest peoples to works by South African artists at the forefront of contemporary art, the exhibition features beautiful and important objects, which illustrate South Africa’s rich history. 

Come on a journey from the very beginnings of artistic thought, through some of the earliest sculpture in southern Africa to colonial art from the 17th century onwards. See magnificent examples of 19th-century South African art, highly charged 20th-century works that responded to segregation and apartheid, and pieces that showcase the post-apartheid transformation of the nation since 1990. 

The exhibition features a selection of significant objects, including some of the world’s oldest art objects and striking contemporary pieces responding to the country’s recent past. See the history of a nation from a new perspective and celebrate the artistic accomplishments of the many peoples that have contributed to the story of South Africa.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Robben Island Shakespeare’s Ethical Leadership Workshop [Wynberg High School Cape Town, South Africa 3 – 7 October 2016]

At Wynberg High School in Cape Town, South Africa, Matthew Hahn was invited by EduCape in association with the Shakespeare in Schools Festival South Africa and supported by the British Council to facilitate a five day interactive theatre workshop for young people that examines current leadership on a personal, community, national and international level.

A group of 11 Grade 11 students [who had previous drama and Shakespeare experience through the Shakespeare in School Festival, South Africa programme] were selected through an application process for their potential for creative and principled leadership. The students came from a variety of backgrounds, with the Chris Hani Arts and Culture School in Khayelitsha township, Islamia College and Wynberg Boys High being among the schools represented.  This new generation of young leaders spent a week of their school holidays learning lessons from the experiences of political prisoners on Robben Island and a variety of Shakespeare’s characters and writng about leadership from their perspective as teenagers living in South Africa in 2016.
The workshop culminated in a performance of selected Shakespearean quotes, extracts from the interviews and new pieces of writing created by the young people.

Student Feedback on the Workshop:
‘I learnt a lot about myself and about ethical leadership, and what it means to lead ethically.’
‘I have an entirely new and different perspective on Shakespeare’s works (for the better), and am very grateful that I got the opportunity to look at and learn about his work with such insight.’ 
‘My fellow grade elevens who attended this workshop with me are some of the greatest students I have ever met, and I look forward to seeing how each and every one of us contribute to making the world a better place by being ethical leaders.’
‘I liked how we got an opportunity to write and discuss our opinions (which were actually listened to and appreciated).’ 
‘I finished the week knowing that I can be a greater leader and had acquired more and strengthened my leadership skills.’
‘The week went very well; it was very exciting. I would like to rate the workshop 10 of 10.  Even the food was good!’
Students’ views on Leadership:
‘I would act as a leader in my own life by first bringing change in my life like doing self-introspection. To change what's bad to good and what's good to much more best and I can also be a leader by making sure that I bring change and keep my promises because leaders with empty promises mislead the world.’
‘This week has helped me get to know to tackle the problems arising in my leadership process.  What makes an ethical leader and how you lead, personally, locally, nationally and internationally.’
‘What I could contribute to South Africa's future is the level of education, the importance of clean environment and the importance of being an ethical leader.’
‘Someone who sees all as equal, and has a good moral compass. By taking initiative and responsibility, as well as being ambitious and inspiring to those around me.’
‘By being strong, but also open-minded and listening to the opinions of others.’
‘By being able to empower others, as well as educate them and be able to make an important decision (based on consideration of all involved).’
‘I have learnt that I am someone who prefers to lead from behind, but also make sure that my view point and opinion is heard. I learnt that leadership is not only about the person leading, but also about those that are being led.’


The course is designed to examine selected speeches of Shakespeare and the primary interviews with former political prisoners on Robben Island in their treatment of the issue of ethical leadership as well as to develop the themes of the balance of power, the use and abuse of leadership, the adjustment to political and social change and the complexity of society that is present in each.  Each speaks eloquently about the vaulting ambition necessary in leadership but also of the selfish & destructive nature that this ambition of political leaders can sometimes take.  The purpose is to define the practices of ethical leadership, briefly share some of Shakespeare’s and the former political prisoners’ lessons on leadership, and offer some applications for ethical leadership development.  
The course is targeted at young people & their educators within and outside of the education system in South Africa.  It can be run in a community centre or within an educational setting and can be scaled up as needed due to the module basis of the work.  The course can consist of practical drama workshops, seminars, creative writing tutorials, lectures, self-study and opportunities for reflection as well as forward thinking.  The teaching methods for the course are highly participative and interactive in which the learners are acknowledged experts in their own lives and experiences.  

Aims:

·         Indicate how the theme of leadership is developed in Shakespeare’s plays.
·         Review the current situation of your own behaviour around leadership.
·         Review the current situation of those in leadership roles [personal, local, national & international].
·         Explore the interviews with the former political prisoners and how they view leadership.
·         Explore how to make positive behaviour changes your own behaviour around leadership.
·         Show those with power to change laws or practice around leadership positive behaviour changes.
·         Create Ethical Leaders: ‘Be the change you want to see’



Course’s Objectives (Learning Outcomes):

Knowledge and understanding of
·         How Shakespeare and the former political prisoners explore concepts of leadership.
·         How our own behaviour can be positively changed around leadership.
Current practice of leadership and its critique.
·         Empowering those not in a position of leadership to take on those roles or to influence those in leadership positions.

The impetus behind the creation of this course:

I have had the great honour to interview several former political prisoners who have become South African MPs, ANC National Executive Committee members and contributors to the development of a democratic South Africa – all whose impact on today's South Africa is enormous. From these most humble of men come gems of great leadership qualities.  The importance of citizenship and one's ability to make positive social change were at the forefront of every interview.  I see this course as a wonderful opportunity to use the former political prisoners’ chosen Shakespearian quotes along with their interviews to develop current and future ethical leaders.   


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Student's Still Images on 'South African Leadership Today'










Students’ views on Leadership:


‘I would act as a leader in my own life by first bringing change in my life like doing self-introspection. To change what's bad to good and what's good to much more best and I can also be a leader by making sure that I bring change and keep my promises because leaders with empty promises mislead the world.’

‘This week has helped me get to know to tackle the problems arising in my leadership process.  What makes an ethical leader and how you lead, personally, locally, nationally and internationally.’

‘What I could contribute to South Africa's future is the level of education, the importance of clean environment and the importance of being an ethical leader.’

‘Someone who sees all as equal, and has a good moral compass. By taking initiative and responsibility, as well as being ambitious and inspiring to those around me.’

‘By being strong, but also open-minded and listening to the opinions of others.’

‘By being able to empower others, as well as educate them and be able to make an important decision (based on consideration of all involved).’

‘I have learnt that I am someone who prefers to lead from behind, but also make sure that my view point and opinion is heard. I learnt that leadership is not only about the person leading, but also about those that are being led.’

Student Feedback on the Ethical Leadership Workshop:


‘I learnt a lot about myself and about ethical leadership, and what it means to lead ethically.’
‘I have an entirely new and different perspective on Shakespeare’s works (for the better), and am very grateful that I got the opportunity to look at and learn about his work with such insight.’

‘My fellow grade elevens who attended this workshop with me are some of the greatest students I have ever met, and I look forward to seeing how each and every one of us contribute to making the world a better place by being ethical leaders.’

‘I liked how we got an opportunity to write and discuss our opinions (which were actually listened to and appreciated).’

‘I finished the week knowing that I can be a greater leader and had acquired more and strengthened my leadership skills.’

‘The week went very well; it was very exciting. I would like to rate the workshop 10 of 10.  Even the food was good!’

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Robben Island Shakespeare's Ethical Leadership Workshop, Wynberg Boys High School, Cape Town South Africa 3 to 7 October

The Robben Island Bible Ethical Leadership Workshop


Playwright and drama facilitator Matthew Hahn was invited by the Shakespeare in Schools Festival South Africa and supported by the British Council to facilitate a five day interactive theatre workshop for young people that examines current leadership on a personal, community, national and international level.

A group of 11 Grade 11 students were selected for their potential for creative and principled leadership. The students came from a variety of backgrounds, with the Chris Hani Arts and Culture School in Khayelitsha township, Islamia College and Wynberg Boys High being among the schools represented. 

This new generation of young leaders spent a week of their school holidays learning lessons from the experiences of political prisoners on Robben Island and a variety of Shakespeare’s characters.

The workshop culminated in a performance of selected Shakespearean quotes, extracts from the play, The Robben Island Bible including monologues based on interviews with former political prisoners on Robben Island and new pieces of writing created by the young people.

I am currently compiling feedback as well as creating a booklet of the newly created pieces of creative writing to be published on this blog in the near future.


For more information about this or future workshops, please visit here.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

New Stage Idioms: South African Drama, Theatre and Performance in the Twenty-first Century, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium, May 11-13, 2017.

My research paper, “The Research, Development and Production History of The Robben Island Shakespeare,” has been accepted for presentation at the Université Libre de Bruxelles’s international conference, New Stage Idioms: South African Drama, Theatre and Performance in the Twenty-first Century in May 2017.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The ‘Ethical Leadership Workshop' in Cape Town, October 2017

The ‘Ethical Leadership Workshop' is based on a copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare on Robben Island in the 1970's commonly referred to as 'The Robben Island Bible'.  This workshop explores the theme of ethical leadership with young people through the works of William Shakespeare as well as verbatim interviews with some of the former political prisoners on Robben Island.   

The aim of the workshop is to benefit the students through being inspired to be better ethical leaders through the words of Shakespeare & the former political prisoners and to create a pathway to future ethical leadership.  The students examine what lessons can be learned and applied by today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.

For more information about the workshop, please see:

http://robbenislandbible.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/summary-document-of-ethical-leadership.html

and 

http://robbenislandbible.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/feedback-on-ethical-leadership-workshop.html


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Sunday, 24 April 2016

From the South African Sunday Times - 'A Tempest in a teapot over the fate of the 'Robben Island Bible.'

A very special performance of The Robben Island Shakespeare on Robben Island on 23 April 2016

What an honour to have Eddie Daniels and, the man of the day, Sonny Venkatrathnam, on Robben Island for a performance of the play, The Robben Island Shakespeare.























Saturday, 23 April 2016

Lovely News Package on Sonny at a recent performance of RIB at the Robben Island Museum


Before Surinarayan (or, Sonny) Venkatrathnam was released from Robben Island in 1977 he asked around 30 fellow inmates to sign the book he called his Bible.  In fact, the text was the Collected Works of William Shakespeare, which Venkatrathnam concealed as a holy book.  Once the tome had been passed around, it was annotated with signatures for political heavyweights like Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada.  Each fellow had signed their name and the date alongside a favourite extract of the Bard's writing.  

For the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare's death (said to be on 23  April 1616) Venkatrathnam treturned to Robben Island with the book. He and fellow inmate Eddie Daniels participated in a special programme recognizing the Bard's work and the special connection between Shakespeare and the lives on inmates at Robben Island prison.

http://www.news24.com/Live/SouthAfrica/News/robben-island-prisoners-epic-autograph-book-20160425

Friday, 22 April 2016

Ian McKellen discusses the Robben Island Bible during his 'Shakespeare on Stage, Screen and Elsewhere with Ian McKellen'

Acting legend Ian McKellen discusses the Robben Island Bible [around minute 28] during a long ranging interview about his impressive range of Shakespearean performances.

Since playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night at 12 years old, Ian McKellen has acted in more than half of Shakespeare’s canon on stages worldwide and screens large and small.

For the Royal Shakespeare Company he was Toby Belch, Macbeth, Leontes, Romeo, King Lear and Iago; for the National Theatre he was Coriolanus, Richard III, Kent in King Lear and Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing; and on TV he starred as Richard II, Hamlet, Macbeth, Iago and most recently King Lear himself.

Acting Shakespeare, McKellen’s award-winning solo show, has been seen on stages throughout the world. Here he shares his unique insights into the problems and joys of interpreting Shakespeare for the theatre, television, radio and cinema.

[Shakespeare Lives @ www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03rkm2f]





Friday, 11 March 2016

Bloomsbury Methuen to publish The Robben Island Shakespeare (formerly known as The Robben Island Bible).

It has just been confirmed that my play, The Robben Island Shakespeare, is to be published by Bloomsbury Methuen in March 2017.  Book launch details will follow in due course.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Robben Island Bible Reading for the 67th Annual Shakespeare Festival at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 405 W 55th St, New York, New York 10019

The Robben Island Bible, a unique theatrical piece by Matthew Hahn that speaks to the resilience of human spirit as well as the timelessness and resonance of Shakespeare, had its New York premiere as part of Hofstra University’s 67th Annual Shakespeare Festival on Monday, February 22, at 7:00pm directed by A. Dean Irby.
Robben Island Bible
Robben Island Bible
Hahn’s play centers on Sonny Venkatratham, who was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1972-1978. During a time when inmates were briefly permitted to have a book, other than a religious text with them, Venkatratham asked his wife to send The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Venkatratham then passed the book to a number of his fellow political prisoners in the single cells. Each of them marked his favorite passage in the Complete Works and signed it with the date. Ultimately, the volume held 32 signatures, including those of Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and Mac Maharaj, all luminaries in the struggle for a democratic South Africa.
The signed passages provide fascinating insight into the minds of those political prisoners who fought for the transformation of South Africa. Julius CaesarHamlet and The Tempest emerged as the most popular texts, focusing on issues such as loyalty, betrayal and assassination. The Robben Island Bible has been performed in venues around the globe, most recently in August 2015 in Soweto at an Ethical Leadership Workshop, and in November 2015 in the UK to help launch a Global Shakespeare master’s program at Warwick College.
Matthew Hahn
Matthew Hahn
Mr. Hahn was a visiting professor in Hofstra’s Department of Drama and Dance for the week of February 22, to guest speak in Hofstra classes, attend rehearsals and the performances of The Robben Island Bible and the Hofstra Shakespeare Festival and participate in the University’s Civil Rights DayHe currently serves as a theater director, drama lecturer and workshop leader in the UK and Africa. He is a senior lecturer at St. Mary’s University where he teaches on the Theatre for Development modules. He also works for Theatre for a Change in Malawi and has directed several productions in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Hofstra University’s Shakespeare Festival began in 1950, and throughout its long history the Festival has presented a varied selection of the plays of William Shakespeare, lesser-known short plays from the period, musicales, and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays performed by high school groups from the greater New York area. This year’s main production is As You Like It, February 18-28, and there will be a one-hour adaptation of Hamlet, directed by Jean Dobie Giebel, The Play’s the Thing, on February 25 and 27. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

Rivonia Four Honoured in the UK

Rivonia Four Honoured in the UK
By John Battersby
Denis Goldberg and Ahmed "Kathy Kathrada", once branded as terrorists and criminals by the British government, were embraced and their life achievements celebrated in the hallowed inner sanctum of the British establishment this week.
The two Rivonia octogenarians – and their 90-year-old colleague Andrew Mlangeni who was unable to fly to the UK for health reasons –  were awarded the City of London's highest honour at a moving ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor of the City of London in Guildhall, the administrative headquarters of the City of London Corporation, on Wednesday.
They were joined by the two surviving members of the Rivonia legal team, George Bizos and Lord Joel Joffe, who were honoured in the same way and accompanied their former clients during a whirlwind three days of events.
Lord Joffe, who was the instructing attorney in the Rivonia trial and wrote the definitive book on the trial, described advocate (barrister) George Bizos as one of the greatest "silks" of his generation and a "brilliant strategist".
Joffe, the leading South African philanthropist in the UK, invited 50 guests to the gala evening to recognise their key role in the anti-apartheid struggle. He has devoted much of his life to ensure that the
role of Bram Fischer as head of the Rivonia legal team is given due recognition.
The highpoints of the extraordinary visit of the Rivonia veterans included a 30-minute meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, a gala event at London's premier Grosvenor House Hotel attended by 750 people, a packed panel event at The Guardian newspaper and a meeting with lawyers at the House of Lords.
Cameron praised their leadership and courage following a 30-minute conversation with the four and Baroness Patricia Scotland, now Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, praised them for having sacrificed their own lives and freedom for the freedom of others.
At the gala evening, one of the keynote speakers - Makaziwe Mandela, the late Nelson Mandela's eldest daughter - praised the Rivonia veterans for "speaking truth to power even when it is their own government".
She said that her father dreamed of a "glorious new South Africa" in which there would be no betrayal of colleagues.
"We children paid a price but it was worth it," Mandela said. "Today we have a better quality of life."
Baroness Scotland, the first woman and the first black Briton to occupy the role of Attorney General of England and Wales (2007-2010), said that Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the Rivonia trial had personally inspired her to become a lawyer.
"Each of you are the embodiment of freedom because you gave up your own freedom for the freedom of others," said Baroness Scotland who is also the first black woman to be an alderman (councillor) in the City of London.
"For giving me my freedom it is a great honour to be part of a ceremony awarding you the Freedom of the City of London," she said.
At the Guildhall ceremony, which follows traditions dating back to the 13th century, the four Rivonia heroes were required to swear allegiance to the Queen and were presented with little books instructing them
how to be good citizens. Goldberg winked in the direction of the audience in several occasions and kept his fingers crossed.
Being a Freeman of London, which once held great practical advantages for being allowed to trade freely in the City, is now of purely symbolic value. It allows Freeman to drive their sheep across London Bridge to the Smithfield meat market.
Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu were both recipients of the award as was the Bafana Captain Aaron Mokoena in 2010 and former South African High Commissioner Zola Skweyiya.
Denis Goldberg, whose task was to build up arms and ammunition for the violent overthrow of the apartheid state in the 1960's, was the de facto spokesman for the group and entertained his hosts with his
down-to-earth frankness in defending the actions and intentions of the Rivonia insurrectionists.
"There was never any doubt in our minds that apartheid would die before we did," he said.
"The only surprise was that it took so long," said Goldberg who called in a BBC interview during his visit for a renewal of the leadership of the African National Congress at every level of Government.
"I have no regrets about what we did – not one," he said. "But we could have done better...we could have done it more effectively."
Goldberg was speaking at a panel chaired by Lord Hain of Neath, himself a leading anti-apartheid campaigner who led the stop-the-tour boycott and went on to become Leader of the House of Commons and was enobled last year as a labour Peer. Hain was three times a Minister in the last Labour Government.
The visit was the brainchild of Sir Nicholas Stadlen, a retired British High Court judge who interviewed Denis Goldberg for the Guardian newspaper three years ago and became fascinated with the Rivonia trial
and its central place in South Africa's transition as well as its lessons for a troubled world.
As a former High Court Judge, Stadlen was particularly intrigued with the paradox which was central to the South African dilemma: that in order to improve or eradicate unjust apartheid laws and oppression, the
Rivonia group had no option but to break the law.
Stadlen has over the past three years recorded scores of filmed interviews with all the key players, lawyers and associates of the Rivonia group including the three surviving veterans, the legal team, and the
family of Bram Fischer, the brilliant lawyer and underground activist, who headed the legal team in the Rivonia trial. The footage will form the basis of an upcoming documentary on the Rivonia trial.
Stadlen is currently working on a book on Bram Fischer during a 12-month sabbatical at Oxford University.
He is planning to create an interactive website under the umbrella of a charity know as "Life is Wonderful" which was also the name of the gala event on Monday night. It captures the moment of sentence in the
Rivonia trial which was literally a matter of life and death.
Goldberg's wife called out to him: What is it? "Life," he replied. "Life is Wonderful.
Stadlen's mission is to load his and other materials which tell the Rivonia story on the world wide web to make it accessible to a wider global audience and particularly to the youth and leaders of tomorrow to
inspire them with the qualities exemplified by the Rivonia group: courage, commitment integrity, selflessness and belief that the interests of the community are paramount.
In response to questions, Goldberg said that it took the apartheid government 15 years to realise that they would have an easier time in the international arena if they treated the political prisoners with dignity
rather than systematically humiliating them by rationing food and having different levels of prison uninforms to the prisoner's racial group.
Goldberg quoted Winston Churchill's threats to eradicate Nazism by "setting Europe ablaze from end to end". So it was in the fight against apartheid racism, he said.
"There comes a point where there is no option but to take up arms," he said. "Armed struggle can be justified. There is no universal rule.  It depends on the circumstances," Goldberg said noting that the ANC's violence was limited to targeting the violence of the state and was never aimed at "soft targets".
Asked whether whites had been instrumental in upholding the apartheid state by one of a group of 35 senior school pupils who attended the events at Downing Street and Guildhall, Goldberg said that whites had voted in successive National Party governments but he noted that victims of apartheid included Africans, coloureds and Indians and those whites who actively protested against apartheid.
"As a white, I benefitted from being white, everything wasopen to me," he said. "It wasn't open to be fellow South Africans who were black," he said. "There is racism everywhere but in South Africa, racism was
the law."
Goldberg, the son of a trade unionist father and seamstress mother, said he was politicised at a young age by the paradox of white South Africans going to fight against Nazi racism in Europe while upholding racism at home.
"I followed Nelson Mandela because it was the right thing to do. I had a conscience. I followed him so l closely that I ended up in jail."
Kathrada said that there were three key elements that made Mandela such a potent leader.
Firstly, he made clear to us that in prison we were no longer leaders and could not give instructions to those outside.
"He made it clear that it was our job to look after those who were in prison," he said.
Secondly, Mandela said that the focus of their struggle in prison should not be directed against the systematic humiliation they were subjected to in jail but that they should keep their focus on the long-term
objectives.
Thirdly, Mandela participated personally in the various hunger-strikes that were held in prison.
The visit was sponsored by the City of London and a gala event in aid of the global charity Global Citizen which runs campaigns and lobbies with governments to end poverty in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals.
The audience was studded with celebrities and former Prime Ministers including former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the former Prime Minister of Denmark.
The proceeds of the fundraising gala will be divided amongst the charitable foundations of the three Rivonia veterans and Global Citizen.
Goldberg said that Mandela should not be canonised as a saint but rather as an exceptional leader who was able to achieve his objectives through tactics and strategy and was able, therefore, to mobilise
people against injustice not only for South Africa but for the whole world.

http://www.globalsouthafricans.com/latest/720-rivonia-four-honoured-in-the-uk.html