Shakespeare’s tale of love at Fugard

After months of preparation, combining a cast of 20 people and a dog, the production of Shakespeare in Love is finally at The Fugard.

Among the cast taking part are four local actresses who all agree on one thing: this is a very exciting production to be a part of.

Green Point resident Bianca Flanders is part of the ensemble cast. “It’s an amazing cast and it is wonderful to get the opportunity to work with these talented actors.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to do Shakespeare in Love any time soon. It felt like a once in a 50-year opportunity.”

Robyn Scott, who plays Queen Elizabeth, was a fan of the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes. “It’s one of my favourite movies of all time. I haven’t been on stage in four years, so what better way to get back on the boards?”

Ms Scott, who lives in Tamboerskloof, said she had always been drawn to acting. “I came out of my mother and I was already performing,” she joked.

Lucy Tops, who plays Nurse, said she was looking forward to the opening week. “It came as a surprise because I didn’t do the original auditions because I was doing another show at Artscape.”

Ms Tops also played the lead role in Funny Girl and said director Greg Karvellas saw the production and asked her to audition. “Normally it (the role of Nurse) is played by a much older woman but I don’t take any offence to that,” she joked.

“It just adds to the character.” Ms Tops, who lives in Zonnebloem, said she was over the moon when she got the role. “I was very pleased to be working with Greg and this amazing cast. I’m just in awe of everybody.”

The play’s plot sees a young Will Shakespeare with writer’s block… the deadline for his new play is approaching but he is in desperate need of inspiration. That is, until he finds his muse – Viola.

This beautiful young woman is Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing (including breaking the law) to appear in his next play.

Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms and inspires him to write his greatest masterpiece. The original play was written by Lee Hall and adapted from the Academy Award-winning 1999 screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman.

The comedy ran for an extended sold-out season at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre in London in 2014.

Sea Point resident Roxane Hayward plays the lead role of Viola de Lesseps.

“I watched the original screen production when it was on at the West End in London. Watching the play, I was in awe of it.”

She said that after watching it she had hoped the production would come to South Africa one day.

“Three years later, here it is.”

She said she had always known that she wanted to be an actress. “People always say oh what’s your back-up plan. No, it is acting through and through. Theatre is such a commitment. You really have to know in your heart that it is 100 percent what you want to do. “

Ms Hayward added that she was also looking forward to working with the cast and Mr Karvellas.

Ms Scott added that a production of this size that wasn’t a musical was rare. “It is incredible and brings us lots of joy. It makes it very special.” She said she was a “nervous nelly” by nature. “Everyone knows the movie and I’m playing the role of the queen who was played by Judi Dench. I had to let that go and make it my own and cross all fingers and toes.”

Ms Hayward agreed. “It is one of the big theatre productions to be performed, with such a big cast that isn’t a musical.”

Ms Tops added that she was nervous to work with actors that she had always admired. She added that she hadn’t seen the production before but since being cast had done some research. She found that the play had a feel-good factor about it. “I love making people happy.”

Ms Flanders said that she knew that being an actress was something she wanted to do. She also said she would encourage aspiring actors to go to drama school.

“I would recommend studying. What training does is it gives you the language to articulate yourself. What training does is it hones your talent and gives you the technique to communicate in the craft. There is some stuff that I would never have known had I not gone to study it.”

Ms Scott agreed and said it provided grounding that actors need. Ms Hayward added that it was important to never stop learning. “In this production I’ve learnt so much. I loved studying because it gives me that confidence but when I’m on set or in rehearsals that is when I learn the most.”

Ms Scott encouraged Cape Town to come out and see the production. “It is about love and finding love. It is so funny.”

She also said there had been a resurgence in theatre in the last five years, which was very encouraging.

Ms Flanders encouraged audiences to come and watch the production by saying: “It’s a rare opportunity to step back in time.”

Shakespeare in Love runs at The Fugard Theatre, corner of Harrington and Caledon streets, Cape Town, until Saturday November 18, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm with a 4pm matinee performance on Saturdays and Sundays (except Sunday October 15).

Tickets range from R130 to R320 and can be booked through The Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554 or through Computicket.

There is a 15% discount available for the Friends of The Fugard members.