This year the World Shakespeare Festival is taking place as a celebration of all things Shakespeare!
In London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre will honour the Bard by showing 37 of his plays in 37 languages.
This illustrates the extent of influence his work still holds on the world nearly 450 years on.
Over 50% of the world’s children study Shakespeare
There are over 64 million children who study Shakespeare, the festival therefore hopes to celebrate how Shakespeare can be relevant the world over, even today, and how his plays can be translated into any language and adapted to any setting.
The plays are not just being performed in widely spoken languages. There are some unusual ones too, including British Sign Language, Maori, Shona and Hip-Hop!
Globe to Globe
Theatre companies will be visiting from all over the globe and I believe the festival will show that some of the themes that flow through his plays, such as love and loss, are ones we all share, no matter where we are from or in what language we enjoy the performance.
‘‘Shakespeare is the language which brings us together better than any other, and which reminds of our infinite difference, and of our strange and humbling commonality.’’
With so much going on it really is an incredibly exciting time to be in the UK and a huge achievement for Shakespeare’s Globe to orchestrate.
With 600 actors involved, some are leaving their war-torn countries for the first time. There’s even a performance coming from South Sudan which sent a 20 page letter outlining how much Shakespeare meant to those caught up in the Sudanese civil war, which was the most powerful pitch the organisers had ever received.
From the Taming of the Shrew in Urdu which portrays the difficulties encountered by modern Pakistani women, to Henry VI performed in three different languages and set in the Balkans, it will be a unique experience which highlights the influence of Shakespeare and his words on us all, in any language.
The one question that lingers is whether the Bard in any other tongue will sound so sweet?
We’ve provided you with the complete list of Shakespeare’s plays being performed:
- Venus & Adonis in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SeSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans & South African English
- Measure for Measure in Russian
- Troilus & Cressida in Maori
- The Merry Wives of Windsor in Swahili
- Pericles in Greek
- Richard in Mandarin
- Twelfth Night in Hindi
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Korean
- Julius Caesar in Italian
- Titus Andronicus in Cantonese
- Cymbeline in Juba Arabic
- Richard II in Palestinian Arabic
- Othello in Hip Hop
- Macbeth in Polish
- The Tempest in Bangla
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona in Shona
- Henry VI: Part 1 in Serbian
- Henry VI: Part 2 in Albanian
- Henry VI: Part 3 in Macedonian
- Henry IV: Part 1 in Mexican Spanish
- Henry IV: Part 2 in Argentine Spanish
- King John in Armenian
- King Lear in Belarusian
- As You Like It in Georgian
- Coriolanus in Japanese
- Romeo & Juliet in Brazilian Portuguese
- Love’s Labour’s Lost in British Sign Language
- All’s Well That Ends Well in Gujarati
- The Taming of the Shrew in Urdu
- The Winter’s Tale in Yoruba
- Antony & Cleopatra in Turkish
- The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew
- The Comedy of Errors in Dari Persian
- Henry VIII in Castilian Spanish
- Timon of Athens in German
- Much Ado About Nothing in French
- Hamlet in Lithuanian
- Henry V in English