Globe to Globe: The Winter’s Tale in Yoruba (Nigeria)

Renegade’s production of The Winter’s Tale was very dramaturgically playful, my favourite way to do Shakespeare. It opened intensely in media res, with Antigonus (I think Adisa Moruf Adeyimi, although he’s just credited as “Sicilian lord”) and baby Oluola (Perdita, Oluwatoyin Alli-Hakeem) on the coast of Bohemia.

He was chased and killed by robbers – not a bear – another example of Renegade’s unabashed willingness to rewrite the play but also a disappointing one, considering, you know, BEAR.

Perdita was found by the shepherds and the second act continued. The sheep-shearing was replaced by a hunting festival, which was an excuse for some tremendous dancing and some tall Dr. Seuss-style pillars with people inside that I don’t know what they were doing in there, but they were great. (This is absolutely me revealing my ignorance, for the record – I believe these have some cultural significance but I’ve got no idea what it is.) Read more...

Globe to Globe: All’s Well That Ends Well in Gujarati (India)

Like many others so far in Globe to Globe, the Gujarati company Arpana adapted Shakespeare’s play into its home culture, rather than straightforwardly performing it as a Western European-based story. I’ve enjoyed these kinds of productions better, with the exception of the histories (not because the histories are an untouchable work of genius – although they TOTALLY ARE – but because a sense of continuity is crucial for their stories).

All photos (c) Ellie Kurttz

Globe to Globe: Love’s Labours Lost in British Sign Language (UK)

When I heard Deafinitely would be doing Shakespeare’s most language-focused play, I was intrigued. Love’s Labours Lost has long been a favourite comedy of mine – Rosaline and Berowne are a dry run for Beatrice and Benedick who nonetheless are slightly more grown-up than the more famous pair, and there are more than enough classical allusions and Latin jokes to keep a smug 17-year-old enrolled at a liberal arts college happy, as I was when I first encountered the play. Parts of it are very boring, and a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but Berowne is probably my favourite speaker in all Shakespeare and the ending is brilliant.

Globe to Globe: King Lear in Belarusian (Belarus)

“That was certainly the shortest Lear I’ve ever seen,” I overheard a patron say as I left the theatre on Friday. It was, and it was brilliant. All Lears should clock in at 80min (1hr35min with interval).

Most of the cuts were around Lear, the Fool and Kent. The highlights were still there, but not the endless moaning on the heath. The storm scene was extremely effective: a blue tarp stretched on stage, held at the edges by the cast, who vigorously shook it to create a tempestous space for Lear to wander in; halfway through, someone dumped a bucket of water into it, which bounced off the tarp for the rest of the scene, splashing Lear again and again, genuinely disorienting him and soaking him through. The Fool played piano and wore very enviable yellow wellies.

King Lear in the storm, The Belarus Free Theatre Read more...

Globe to Globe: Cymbeline in Juba Arabic (South Sudan)

It was very cold on Tuesday night, and I sympathised with the actors, who were wearing bright costumes well suited to the climate in Juba but less so to London. The traditional all-cast dance at curtain call turned into a genuinely spontaneous celebration of their new country, and was the best, and most theatrical, part of the night. Many of the actors seemed a bit nervous during the performance (although that might have just been the cold), but once the play was over there was nothing holding them back from a long, joyful and well-earned exultation.

Globe to Globe: Twelfth Night in Hindi (India)

Twelfth Night is a very resilient play. It takes whatever you throw at it and pushes back, sometimes in unexpected ways. It balances life and death, joy and despair, love and rejection, drunkenness and sobriety. I felt the lack of surtitles more keenly than I have at any other show, as the adaptation was obviously very loose, and I was disappointed at all the good jokes I was clearly missing.