A celebration of Shakespeare: 38 plays in 38 languages

Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing.
Shakespeare :: Troilus and Cressida, Act I / Scene ii

Shakespeare 38 languages, 38 plays in 38 languages, Shakespeare's Globe, in celebration of the 2012 London Olympics, 38 language canon, firt folio cover posterHere’s what the Globe is doing. How great is this?

To celebrate the 2012 London Olympics, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre will present each of William Shakespeare’s 38 plays in a different language. The six-week theater season will begin appropriately on 23 April 2012 – the Bard’s birthday.

Here’s a sampling of the Globe’s 2012 season (at this writing):

  • Julius Caesar in Italian;
  • King Lear in Australian Aboriginal languages;
  • The Taming of the Shrew in Urdu;
  • The Tempest in Arabic;
  • The Two Gentleman of Verona in Shona;
  • Titus Andronicus in Cantonese;
  • Troilus and Cressida in Maori.

The season will feature Shakespeare’s other plays performed in Lithuanian, Spanish, Mandarin, Greek and British Sign Language, and more announcements to come. Companies from around the world will participate. This is described as “the most ambitious multilingual Shakespeare project ever attempted.” I’ll say.

Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe’s Artistic Director, explains: “It has long been recognized that Shakespeare, as well as a great playwright, has become an international language, and has proved one of the most life-affirming and barrier transcending ways that people can speak to one another.”

Shakespeare 38 languages, 38 plays in 38 languages, Shakespeare's Globe, in celebration of the 2012 London Olympics, 38 language canon,Here’s an interview Dromgoole did with BBC Newshour. It features a multi-lingual recitation of the first line of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy. Listen up.

I wouldn’t want to be in London for the Olympics, but how fabulous if they took the multi-lingual Shakespeare 38 on the road! A subtle hint to the Globe.

Image: This original image of the first folio cover is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. Illustration: © 2011 Janet Giampietro

4 Responses to “A celebration of Shakespeare: 38 plays in 38 languages”

  1. lg Says:

    Brilliant! And, such a kudo to the spoken word in this age of e-communications.

  2. Janet Giampietro Says:

    Absolutely! It’s a great idea and a wonderful meld to the Olympics.

  3. Ian Says:

    I saw the Zulu version of Macbeth, so I can’t wait for this series. I’ve got a flat to rent if anyone is looking for space in 2012.

  4. Arleo Dordar Says:

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