”Written byRuan Groenewald
To blaze, or not to blaze – that is the question.
The fact that marijuana and the arts have been in close relation to one another is no new information, the one stimulating the other and vice versa. Yet a group of young actors in Cape Town is taking that relationship to ‘higher’ levels. The lights go up, our setting: Messina, a port city on the island of Sicily. What’s that smell you ask? No it’s not the fresh herbs from the cafe’ next door. It is however the freshest of herbs, a tightly rolled clean green joint.
Introducing ‘Baked Shakespeare’, a fresh approach to not only the theatre world but the fast-growing weed culture in general. Inspired by the cultural phenomenon of Drunk Shakespeare, this group of performers will be taking the stage with a joint in hand to perform their first of many Shakespearian texts starting with the Bards famous comedy ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ this August.
Stepping onto stage will be the founder of Baked Shakespeare Jake Maisel and 8 other actors to bring you a new twist to this classic comedy with Andrew Munnik taking the helm as director. “I put this all together to be a part of the team and have fun and that’s when I do my best,” says Jake Maisel. “So when I saw Andrew at a mutual friend’s house, I didn’t even greet him – I just went up to him and said ‘Andrew, you have to direct this show.”
“Inspired by the cultural phenomenon of Drunk Shakespeare, this group of performers will be taking to the stage with a joint in hand.”
This form of theatre might be a sour note for the die-heart Shakespearian purists out there that state that this is “Killing Shakespeare” and that a person needs to stick to the text, taking nothing away from the writing. However, Maisel defends this approach to theatre and says, “Sure Shakespeare is beautiful and it can always stand on its own but in the current climate of theatre in Cape Town that is just not happening unless there is something drawing the audience in, getting people off Netflix and into a theatre seat.”
The performers and creators working under Baked Shakespeare are all lovers of theatre and therefore treat it with the respect any Shakespeare text deserves by rehearsing the plays without the use of marijuana and approach it as a professional show. Marijuana therefore just gives it a new spice on performing nights. “When rehearsing and performing a show, you want to keep it fresh every time, but now it’s being elevated where adding the marijuana creates a new essence of comedy and narrative to every show purely because a different person will be smoking every show and so no performance can be one in the same.”
“Where adding the marijuana creates a new essence of comedy and narrative to every show purely because a different person will be smoking every show and so no performance can be one in the same.”
This group of young actors has a dream team in their corner with sisters Steph & Julia O’Keeffe on choreography and Cape Town theatre icon Geoffrey Hyland overseeing the production, allowing the play to stay true to Shakespeare’s writing.