Directed by Geoffery Hyland.
Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, 50th Anniversary Production.
Shakespeare at Maynardville.
(Wynberg: Houghton House, 2005)
For various reasons my journey to see this production of Twelfth Night was made by train to Wynberg station, and on foot from there – via the litter and hubbub of Main Road on a Friday night – to Maynardville. I disclose this piece of personal information because it struck me, as I surveyed the pre-show picnics spread across the lawns of the park, that such an arrival would be considered distasteful by most of the patrons at this venerable institution on the Cape Town summer calendar. Consequently I found myself losing confidence in the face of over-familiar but unrelenting questions: is Shakespeare-in-the-park merely a bourgeois indulgence, in light of the manifest evidence of socio-economic problems in our country? Does Shakespeare put our politico-cultural dilemmas into perspective, or is the reverse true? If it falls to the (largely white) upper-middle class – although in the case of Cape Town, with its astronomical property prices, one is tempted to refer to the landed gentry – to preserve this particular version of Shakespeare in South Africa, is this a cause for embarrassment or simply a local variation on the universal theme of high art, elitism and patronage?