Friday, 20 April 2012

The Robben Island Bible will be performed as part of the London Literary Festival at London’s Southbank Centre on Tuesday 3rd July.

Matthew Hahn’s play, The Robben Island Bible, will be performed as part of the London Literary Festival’s Africa Utopia Series, which explores where the continent can lead the world, including the role of music and theatre, sustainable technologies, science and innovation.

The reading will feature  the actors Vincent Ebrahim, Cornelius Macarthy and Chuk Iwuji and be directed by Mark Griffin.

The play is based on a true story that took place at the Robben Island prison, where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years, and which is a global symbol of the apartheid struggle. Political prisoner Sonny Venkathrathnam had a copy of 'The Complete Works of Shakespeare' brought into the prison and it soon became a treasure, passed between fellow prisoners who signed and dated their favourite extracts from the Works. Matthew has turned this story into a play, featuring extracts of Shakespeare intercut with testimony of the former political prisoners. Matthew commented, “It has been an honour to be associated with this South African treasure. As an artist and social activist, I have met people who have humbled me with their stories. Working on this play for so long, I am pleased to see that the names of these most gentle of men are finally getting known by the public.” Before the performance, writer Ashwan Desai will give a keynote talk based on his book, 'Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island'. Following the performance will be a Q & A with Ashwin, Matthew, members of the cast and facilitated by actress Pamela Nomvete. The performance begins at 7.45pm and prices start from £10. For more information, please visit