New reality series ‘conquers’ Shakespeare
The new TVJ reality television series, Conquering Shakespeare, follows eight local high schools as they compete in the second Jamaica Schools Shakespeare Championships, founded by Dr Tony Sewel of Generating Genius UK.
There is never a dull moment as viewers watch the diverse range of schools struggle to produce uniquely Jamaican versions of different types of Shakespearean plays. The first three episodes introduce traditional, uptown schools St Andrew High School for Girls and Immaculate Conception; rural schools Knox College, Manchester High, DeCarteret College; St Jago in Spanish Town and Kingston-based Holy Trinity and Haile Selassie high schools. As viewers tune in to the students and their teachers rehearsing and wrestling with the difficult task of staging the plays in a Jamaican context, it quickly becomes apparent that the lower-performing schools, academically, are not always the ones who have the most difficulty translating the Shakespearean text into Jamaican vernacular.
The fly-on-the-wall style of filming gives a glimpse of the diverse nature of the participants, and Shakespeare’s timeless characterisations and dramatic scenarios end up being a platform for the students and teachers to candidly share their views and experiences, as they struggle to translate the text and describe in snapshots what it means to be Jamaican in these times. Filmed over the first six months of the year, Conquering Shakespeare is an innovative and nuanced production that invariably hits its mark.
Conceived and directed by film producer Paul Bucknor of Firefly Films ( The Full Monty, Better Mus Come), and executive produced by Claire Grant and Judith Alberga for TVJ’s Home Grown Entertainment division, Conquering Shakespeare commenced airing on August 13 and will run weekly – Tuesdays at 6 p.m., with a rebroadcast on Sundays at 12.30 p.m.