Home >> Events >> Digital Theater: Decolonizing Shakespeare in South African Schools
Apr 22 2021 - 10:30am to 12:00pm

Speakers: Gina Bloom (UC Davis) with Lauren Bates (Vista Nova High School and Educasions, Cape Town).

This talk explores how the mixed reality game Play the Knave (which was developed at UC Davis) is being used to decolonize Shakespeare in South African high schools. South Africa has been called the “most unequal country on the planet” and these inequalities are strikingly evident in the secondary school system. Our collaboration aims to engage South African high school students in digitally-mediated Shakespeare performance to tackle one of the major symptoms of inequality in South Africa: violence. In this paper, we discuss a curriculum we developed for using Play the Knave’s gaming technology to teach the Shakespeare plays most often assigned in high schools—the violent tragedies Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth—connecting these to South African experiences and history. We contend that our curriculum can help address the psychological and emotional impact of violence on the country’s youth, contributing to sustained peace.

This is the second lecture in the Digital Shakespeares series organized by the Center for the Study of Media and Performance in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Initiative

Register for Zoom link.


Gina Bloom is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis, where she is affiliated faculty with the PhD programs in Education and Performance Studies. Bloom has authored numerous articles about early modern drama as well as two books, the most recent of which focuses on games and theater. She is currently the director of Play the Knave, a mixed reality Shakespeare game that she co-developed with faculty and students at the UC Davis ModLab.

Lauren Bates is a theatre artist and educator in Cape Town, South Africa, where she has been involved in English education for the past ten years, particularly amongst learners with special needs. Bates holds two Masters Degrees in Shakespeare Studies from the University of Cape Town and the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. She currently runs an educational theatre company called Educasions, which brings live Shakespeare performances to local schools.


This event is part of the Spring 2021 programming co-organized by the DH Center and DH@SDSU. These programs provide opportunities for faculty, students, and community members to come together to critically explore the digital. 

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