The Korea Herald


London stages Shakespeare’s plays in 37 dialects


Published : Sept. 28, 2011 - 15:38

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LONDON (AFP) -- Actors from around the world will converge on London next year to stage all of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different dialects and styles, from a hip-hop “Othello” to “The Comedy of Errors” in Farsi.

The six-week marathon at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre begins on April 23 and is timed to coincide with festivities celebrating the London 2012 Olympic Games.

From the opening production of “Troilus and Cressida” by a Maori company from New Zealand -- complete with the haka warrior dance -- the program will showcase talents from all corners of the planet, from Argentina to Belarus.

A company from South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, will take part with a production of “Cymbeline” in Juba Arabic, while Afghanistan’s Roy-e-Sabs company will leave Kabul for the first time to show “The Comedy of Errors.”

Fans can take in the whole season for just 100 pounds ($155), or pick and choose with tickets costing from 5 pounds a show to stand in the Globe’s yard.

Among the performances is a version of “The Tempest” from a company in Bangladesh and a rendition of “Richard III” in Mandarin by the National Theatre of China. “The Merchant of Venice,” a play often accused of being anti-Semitic, will be performed in Hebrew by Israel’s Habima national theatre company.

A British company will perform a version of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in sign-language, and a Chicago-based troupe will mix up and set the passion of “Othello” to original beats.

Many of the plays will feature dance and music as they reinterpret Shakespeare’s tales for modern audiences.

A Pakistani company will feature live singers and musicians playing bhangra music in its Urdu production of “The Taming of the Shrew”, and a version of “Coriolanus” is being staged by the expressive Japanese company Chiten.

Shakespeare’s Globe, on the south bank of the River Thames, is a reconstruction of the original, circular open-air Globe Theatre, for which the Bard wrote many of his greatest plays.

Dominic Dromgoole, the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, said: “It is very inclusive. It tries to celebrate internationalism and conversation between people of different nationalities.

“It is a great way to get people to talk through a common language -- just as some people can communicate to each other through sport, we are going to talk to each other through Shakespeare.”

The program, which opens with a production of the poem “Venus and Adonis” by a South African group, will see almost 85 hours of Shakespeare performed at the Globe -- with no subtitles.

Dromgoole was confident they could fill the seats, saying English-speaking fans would enjoy seeing well-known plays in a different language, but added that the theatre would also try to get native speakers to come and watch.

“If people show enough cultural curiosity... then we should be fine,” he said.