A copy of ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’ smuggled into a prison is the starting point for this evening of performance and discussion.
Robben Island is the prison in which Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years, and a global symbol of the apartheid struggle. When Sonny Venkathrathnam, an inmate, smuggled in a copy of ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’, it became a treasure, passed between his fellow prisoners, who memorised and wrote down extracts of the work.
Theatre director Matthew Hahn has turned this story into a play, featuring extracts of Shakespeare intercut with testimony of the prisoners.
This week Matthew Hahn was interviewed on Front Row about the Robben Island Bible , which is currently exhibited at the British Museum. Have a listen on BBC iPlayer here! (it starts 23 minutes in)