Online reading of Hamlet adaptation

Neil Coppen has won several major awards for his writing, design and direction work.

There will be a free online reading of Neil Coppen’s work-in-progress version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet on Monday May 31, at 6pm.

The professional, rehearsed reading of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy forms part of the further development of the adaptation by Coppen, a writer, designer and director.

The cast for the rehearsed reading includes Anelisa Phewa, Rehane Abrahams, David Dennis, Buhle Ngaba, Faniswa Yisa, Tony Bonani Miyambo, Khutjo Green, Jemma Khan, Richard September and Royston Stoffels.

South African-born Broadway actress, Bianca Amato, and multi-award-winning South African actor, writer and speaker, Buhle Ngaba will be associate directors alongside Coppen for the reading.

“Hamlet was scheduled to run at The Fugard Theatre in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent closure of the Fugard. I am delighted that Neil’s bold vision for this production will take a big step towards further development with an incredible team, enabling audiences to experience the compelling nature of a live reading which forms part of the development process,” says producer, Daniel Galloway, who marks his first independent presentation under his DGC banner with this presentation of the reading of Hamlet.

“When Greg Karvellas from the Fugard approached me to direct an adaptation of Hamlet, I jumped at the opportunity as it’s the one Shakespearean text that really excited me to reimagine and bring to life within a contemporary South African setting,” says Coppen.

“My adaptation focuses on a South African royal/ political dynasty not unlike the ones we see on the nightly news. Whenever I hear or read about the latest succession scandal, I’m reminded of how authentically the themes and ideas behind Hamlet can be situated within modern day South African cultures and paradigms,”says Coppen.

“Rehearsing Shakespeare on Zoom is definitely not without its own set of challenges which is why I’m extremely grateful to have both Buhle and Bianca’s support in the Zoom rehearsal room with me. I’m excited about where our adaptation of Hamlet currently sits, and how this online reading process will enable it to grow and expand further. The script and concept I’m starting out with will benefit and develop greatly from the feedback, imaginations and inputs of our assembled cast.”

The live, online reading of Hamlet has been made possible through the support of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the National Arts Council.

To watch the rehearsed reading of Neil Coppen’s adaptation of Hamlet, visit

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