London’s Globe theatre is to host the Globe to Globe festival featuring a marathon of 37 Shakespeare plays performed in 37 different languages leading up to the 2012 Olympics.
The Ngakau Toa theatre company launched the festival with a ground breaking performance of Aotearoa’s traditional māori haka by the actors followed by their performance of the Trojan epic Troilus and Cressida in te reo.
The festival features an array of cultures including a South Sudanese version of “Cymbeline”, Othello reinterpreted through hip hop, ”The Comedy of Errors” by Afghan actors, and “Richard III” by the National Theatre of China. It will also be the first time a Shakespeare play will be publicly performed in its entirety in British sign language when deaf actors present ”Love’s Labours Lost”.
Festival director Tom Bird supports the concept of the festival saying ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s work in a way that you’re unlikely ever to have seen it before.’ The festival is exhibits Shakespeare’s universal appeal. ‘Shakespeare is the language that brings us all together, and through his plays we can celebrate the similarities and differences of us all.’
Rawiri Paratene, director of the Māori ”Troilus and Cressida”, said he was “excited and frightened” about opening the festival.
He said the play translated well because “the classical Māori language is very poetic, very bawdy, very prosaic — it’s got all the different forms of the language that Shakespeare uses.”
“I’ve worked in the Globe before, and it’s my favourite stage on the planet,” he added. ”The best thing is the intimacy of the audience,” he said.
Globe To Globe is part of the London 2012 Festival for the Olympics and closes on the 9th of June.