A groundbreaking new Shakespeare film, Speak Me A Speech, will offer audiences a first look at its 42-minute preview at Woordfees 2023 on Tuesday 10 and Friday 13 October. The film, produced by CineSouth Studios in association with Wits University’s Tsikinya-Chaka Centre, is still in production, with shooting scheduled to continue to end 2024.

Speak Me A Speech is a unique and ambitious project that brings to life 28 Shakespeare characters in 10 South African languages through 35 iconic monologues. The film reimagines these characters as inhabitants of the modern-day world, speaking to us in a natural, colloquial, conversational style as contemporaries.

The Woordfees preview screenings will feature outstanding performances by celebrated actors Anelisa Phewa, Royston Stoffels, Chantal Stanfield and Buhle Ngaba, bringing to life four unforgettable Shakespeare characters: Thomas More, Sir John Falstaff, Mistress Page and Portia. The monologues will be performed in isiZulu, Afrikaans and Setswana, and will be the first time these characters have been realised and presented on film in these languages.

aneliswa - thomas more

The five monologues in the preview film cover a wide range of topics, situations and emotions, from old-age mischief-making for love and money to indignation at the receipt of an unwanted advance. The film also includes an impassioned speech delivered by a Zulu leader to a violent, xenophobic mob.

As in the full-length film, the monologues in South African languages are punctuated by reflection in English on some of the material. In this case, Anelisa Phewa shares his thinking underpinning his work on the translation and performance of the powerful speech against xenophobia by Thomas More.

Speak Me A Speech is a celebration of the extraordinary talents of the actors and translators working in South Africa today. It is a rare opportunity to see these artists perform great monologues by iconic Shakespeare characters in their own languages, and to have their performances captured in a film studio setting.

All monologues filmed for the project are made publicly available on the web platform, with user-selectable subtitle options (Shakespeare, the South African language being spoken, and the translation into contemporary English of the spoken language), and texts.