The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.516 Monday, 2 November 2015
Date: October 29, 2015 at 8:53:41 PM EDT
Subject: Hamlet Globe to Globe
Jasper Rees has an entertaining writeup of the Shakespeare’s Globe’s two-year “Hamlet Globe to Globe” tour in the latest issue of The Economist’s Intelligent Life (http://intelligentlifemagazine.com/features/all-the-worlds-a-stage). Suitably exotic selections below. BTW they used Dominic Dromgoole’s 90-minute adaptation of Hamlet Q1 (“rather than the lapidary First Folio text”), performed in English with native-language intros and outros.
...Emeruwa posts a snap of every venue on Instagram. His album includes many formal theatres, but also spanking new cultural centres (Kazakhstan, Egypt), amphitheatres, cathedrals (outside one in Mexico, inside in Tunisia), school halls, a castle (Czech Republic), a field (Benin), a library (the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC) and outdoor arenas. In Khartoum they played to an audience of 3,000, with another 2,000 locked out. In Wittenberg, Hamlet’s university town, no more than 40 turned up for what the company is united in regarding as the tour’s dampest squib. They have performed at sea level, looking out on the Pacific Ocean in Antofagasta and the Indian Ocean in Djibouti, and at extreme altitude: in La Paz oxygen was on tap backstage. They have often felt the dread weight of recent history: in Sarajevo, in Eritrea, in Kiev where Petro Poroshenko was in the house the night before he was elected Ukraine’s new president. In Somaliland no play at all had been performed for more than 20 years. Leong talks of the responsibility of “going to so many places where people’s idea of what it’s like to see a play rests entirely on that one performance”. Above all the company speak about an epiphany at the National University of Rwanda in Butare. After two scenes, the power failed and the audience waited while stage managers and cast rapidly shifted the set outside. The heat was intense, but so was the spell cast by the occasion. “Part of the high”, says Paratene, “was the knowledge that we were performing on a campus where murder had been committed.”...
After the cast [in Kasane, Zimbabwe] have performed their rousing musical outro and taken the hearty applause, I talk to two polite 16-year-old girls in green uniform whose school party has come from Kachikau, 60km away. Both are seeing Shakespeare live for the first time. Their own drama classes, they say, focus on child abuse, teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse, and they warm to a story about ghosts and vengeance. “Speaking fast it’s hard for us Africans to learn their language,” says Likezo, whose first language is Subiya. “Some words I understand, others not. But at the end I understood what is their message.” The message taken by Annastacia (first language: Kalanga) has an African slant: “In our culture,” she says, “when somebody marries his brother’s wife this is dangerous because children end up doing mistakes in life. Our parents should not do that because it affects our life. When Hamlet tried to talk to his mother his mother didn’t listen to him and this ended up causing him to kill himself.”
Thus the tragedy of Hamlet, unfathomable as all the globe’s oceans, yields up yet another story.