Is nothing sacrosanct from the insidious creep of The Cancel Culture? Apparently not.
un-glad tidings that Creative New Zealand has withdrawn its modest $30,000 per
annum funding for the Shakespeare in Schools programme, has come as a body blow
to those who value the enduring literary power and drama of the late great
This decision was apparently justified by its “advisory panel” opining that “Shakespeare was locked within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa.”
NZ to thus politicize the dedication of so many theatrical devotees who bring
Shakespeare’s works into our schools is, by implication, to cancel English
literature as we know it and replace it with…what? Something homegrown,
Is this not
another case of racism by stealth, designed to “deny access to the English
culture” and promote the agenda of the Left?
What’s next for the chopping block? Rhododendrons? Bagpipes? Cheese?
attended a Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand National Shakespearean Schools
Production held at the Logan Park School in Dunedin. This entailed 46 High
School students of diverse cultures and high schools, participating in three
plays, namely Henry IV, Othello and Twelfth Night. With few props, these
talented young actors transported the audience to The Globe Theatre of old.
which, half of these student actors were chosen to be members of SGCNZ Young
Shakespeare Company to travel to The Globe Theatre, London, in July 2023, for
an intensive two-week theatre course, culminating in a performance on The Globe
stage. They then travel to Stratford-Upon Avon for three more days of
Shakespearean experiences. Life-changing.
golden opportunity to promote The Arts and open doors for the next generation
to live their best life! The Pop-Up Globe in New Zealand has always been a
resounding success with sell-out crowds, demonstrating a deep and abiding
thirst for Shakespeare.
Let’s take a
look at the man who was, and is, William Shakespeare. It is astonishing how 406
years since his death on St George’s Day 1616, the words of the world’s
greatest playwright still reach out to us as a reflection of ourselves and the
world in which we live. Yes, Panel, they are still relevant.
insights into the human condition, through the eternal truths of comedies,
tragedies and histories, reveal the universal themes of love, jealousy,
ambition, betrayal, and greed, resonate as loudly today as ever they did.
extent that most of us use Shakespearean phrases, perhaps subconsciously, is
rich testament to the intrinsic value of this brilliant man’s writings to
people of diverse culture and seats of learning.
“High time” “The
milk of human kindness” “Brevity is the soul of wit” The be-all and end-all” “Method
in your madness” “Into thin air” “heart’s content” “short shrift” “for ever and
a day” “what the dickens” “as white as the driven snow” “a sea-change” ”fancy-free”
…to mention but a few Shakespearean gems.
Ardern waded into the debate, stating gleefully that she once participated in a
Shakespearean play (as “Bottom” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But she could
never interfere in the independent decision of Creative NZ. Oh, cry me a river!
I am no
scholar, but thank you Miss Stapleton of Kaikorai Valley High School in the
1960’s, for introducing me to the English language through the poems and prose
of Shakespeare. For setting the bar high. Long may such continue!! Do not deny
our youth their rightful place on the world stage!
The Ministry of Education has since agreed to assist with funding - in the face of the public outcry!
Jacqueline Athanasatos is a former Journalist, television
scriptwriter and freelance writer.