The stage at Shakespeare’s Globe trembled under a performance unlike any it will have experienced before this morning, when a Maori haka launched the Globe To Globe Festival
A war cry or challenge, the Maori tradition, most often associated with the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, was performed by New Zealand’s Ngãkau Toa theatre company, which performs Troilus And Cressida tonight and tomorrow, opening the season of shows that will see all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed by 37 international companies in 37 different languages.
In addition to Maori, other languages that will be used to tell Shakespeare’s famous tales at the iconic theatre over the next seven weeks are Korean (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Polish (Macbeth), Belarusian (King Lear), Brazilian Portuguese (Romeo And Juliet) and Lithuanian (Hamlet). As well as world languages, the season also includes a hip hop Othello and Love’s Labour’s Lost performed by Deafinitely theatre in British Sign Language.
“We are hugely excited to throw open our doors to the world,” said Festival Director Tom Bird. “The festival offers the chance to see well known plays in a new way, with the cultural influences and theatre conventions of countries you may never have visited. 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, and a chance for the communities of London to hear his stories in their mother tongue.”
The season, which plays as part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012 and the London 2012 Festival, features companies that themselves have a story to tell, from Afghanistan’s Roy-e-Sabs, which will leave Kabul for the first time to perform in London, to Belarus Free Theatre, which faces persecution in its own country, and from the well known Isango Ensemble, which has already enjoyed London success with The Mysteries and The Magic Flute, to the National Theatre of China, which is performing in the UK for the first time.
The Globe To Globe season, which includes the Globe’s famous £5 standing tickets and a chance to see all the shows for just £100, runs at the Bankside venue until 9 June, when it will be followed by the Globe’s summer season, which includes Henry V, Richard III, Twelfth Night and The Taming Of The Shrew.