Something really cool is happening in London next year, as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.
"Globe to Globe: 37 Plays in 37 Languages," begins April 21st, 2012, with plans to produce every one of Shakespeare's plays in a different language, each performed by a different international company. Those languages include British Sign Language, with "Love's Labours Lost" performed by England's Deafinitely Theatre; "The Merchant of Venice" performed in Hebrew by the Habima National Theatre of Tel Aviv; a Maori production of "Troilus and Cressida" by the Ngakau Toa company from New Zealand; "Measure for Measure" performed in Russian by Moscow's Vakhtangov Theatre; a Swahili take on "The Merry Wives of Windsor," performed by Nairobi's Bitter Pill company; "Twelfth Night" performed in Hindi by the Company Theater of Mumbai; "Cymbeline" in Juba Arabic from the South Sudan Theatre Company and "Richard II" in Palestinian Arabic from Ashtar Theatre of Ramallah; and a new Balkan trilogy for Henry VI, with Part 1 in Serbian, Part 2 in Albanian and Part 3 in Macedonian from the national theaters of Serbia, Albania and Macedonia. Other productions will be in Argentine Spanish, Armenian, Bangla, Belarusian, Brazilian Portuguese, Cantonese, Castilian Spanish, Dari Persian, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Mandarin Chinese, Mexican Spanish, Polish, Shona, Turkish, Urdu, Yoruba, and a combination of IsiZulu, IsiXhosa and SeSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans and South African English as the Isango Ensemble from Cape Town performs a "carnival interpretation" of the narrative poem "Venus and Adonis."
There is also a production in regular old British English, with "Henry V," that most British of plays, performed by the Shakespeare's Globe company.
Will there be an American representative? Why, yes, there will! The Q Brothers are taking their hip hop version of "Othello," created for our very own Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, to represent the United States. The Globe to Globe program offers this quote from the show: "I hate the bastard, hate the Moor, I hate his rhymes, I hate his whore." Not your grandfather's "Othello."
I love language and I love Shakespeare and I find all of this absolutely fascinating. O for a muse with wings to carry me to England in April and leave me there till June.
You can find a summary here, a Festival Guide here, and the complete line-up here.