This year London hosts the Olympic games and along with that, many cultural institutions set up something they call “the Cultural Olympiad”.
As I spent a lot of time studying at the rebuilt Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s Southbank for my master’s degree last year, I am especially interested in their contribution: The Globe to Globe Festival.
6 Weeks, 37 Games, 37 Languages, 37 Theatre Groups, 1 Bard.
The festival’s aim is to stage Shakespeare’s 37 games in 37 different language, also including a Hip Hop performance of Othello or a sign language production of Love’s Labour’s Lost. The theatre companies travel to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre from all over the world and for some, like the South Sudan Theatre Company, it is their first ride on airplane. This company has been selected to stage Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s romances, today and tomorrow. South Sudan is a country which was only granted independence in July 2011 and for the last decades, English books were banned by government, which made access to Shakespeare very difficult. Now the country is free and their performance of Cymbeline in Juba Arabic, a language that doesn’t even have a dictionary (yet), is a symbol for South Sudan’s step into the world.
(For more information, read this article in today’s Independent.)
The Two Gentleman of Zimbabwe
One of my personal highlights of this festival would certainly be the Two Gents’ production of Two Gentleman of Verona, which I have already seen on tape a few months ago. Two Gents Productions consists of two Zimbabwean actors and a German director who allow their cultural background to work on the Bard’s plays. The effect is a mind-blowing clash of African culture and atmosphere and tales which are already familiar to us but which are seen in a new light now. In their productions, the two actors take on all the roles themselves and alternate very quickly, which makes their performances dynamic and highly entertaining.
A Belarusian Lear
Another play-to-see will certainly be King Lear, staged by the Belarus Free Theatre. This theatre company, whose plays are banned in their home country and whose main playwright got arrested several times, was founded in 2005 and they travel the world in order to draw attention to dictatorship and censorship in Belarus. The initiative is supported by actors like Jude Law, Kevin Spacey, and Ian McKellen.
I have been so fortunate as to see the Belarus Free Theatre perform on stage and their theatrical straight-forwardness and their expressive acting made me speechless. This is not only a good cause but the Belarus Free Theatre is also highly talented and I’m looking forward of their interpretation of my favourite Shakespeare play.
All the World’s a Stage!
After being very sad about the fact that I am not in London right now and hence not able to see all those interesting, colourful new interpretations of my favourite plays on the Globe stage, I stumbled upon this page yesterday: The Space.
This page is supported by the English Arts Council and the BBC and will make a variety of different cultural events from London available online and for free. Amongst their provided plays is already a Globe to Globe performance of Venus and Adonis in different African languages. I immediately asked via twitter whether they would broadcast all of the 37 plays and although I haven’t got an official answer yet, other sources on twitter confirmed that all plays would be made available.
If this is the case, I will post reviews of the plays on my blog and I hope that I got some of you interested in this fascinating festival and that you will also make use of The Space and maybe share your opinions with me.