Emory Report

May 18, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 32

Oxford grad deciphers
the Bard's funny code

Deciphering hidden meanings in a Shakespeare play is something like unlocking the solution to a psychological puzzle. This is what intrigues Oxford sophomore Fabio Van der Merwe. A psychology major, Fabio has acted, directed and served as president of the Oxford Ensemble for Shakespearean Artists (OESA).

"In modern dramas the joke is right there, but in Shakespeare it is hidden with fancy words and poetics," Van der Merwe said. "The challenge of finding [what is hidden] attracts us."

In fact, it was this love for Shakespeare's humor and wording that inspired OESA's founding members in 1996 to form a group to produce the Bard's work. Originally an arm of the Drama Guild, Oxford's faculty-directed theater group, OESA was chartered as an official organization by the Student Government Association in the fall of 1997. During his freshman year Van der Merwe felt compelled to audition for the nascent OESA's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He landed one of the leading roles.

With Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night and abridged versions of The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing already under its belt, OESA presented a series of one-act plays in April. The biggest kick for Van der Merwe is hearing audience applauded and encouraging other students. "It's an extremely talented group," he said. "We allow for that creative spirit."

Along with his involvement in theater, Van der Merwe was engaged in another creative venture-he managed the Java Hut in Oxford. Open four nights a week, the coffeehouse serves as a forum for poetry, acoustic music and chess games. "On good nights, we've got 75 students coming in."

Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Van der Merwe has been in the United States for six years, and he attended high school in Savannah, Ga. He was drawn to Oxford for the closeness students can have with both professors and peers. "I just had a one-hour conversation with one of my professors," he said. "In some places, that is unheard of."

-Laurie Aucoin

Return to May 18, 1998 Contents Page