Shakespeare: Globe to Globe took place this summer and featured 37 plays being performed in 37 different languages in the rebuilt Shakespeare Globe theatre in London, England. Put on as a celebration of the impact that the playwright has had around the world, live audiences watched performers deliver famous lines in their mother tongues in the playwright’s spiritual home.
Nothing quite compares to the emotion, crowd and weather involved in watching a play performed in an open theatre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the theatre at home. Luckily the whole season of unforgettable performances are available for viewing via The Space, a hub that provides free access to various artforms on the Internet and mobile devices.
If you doubt you’ll keep up with Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech in Portuguese worry not, as most (and all productions featured in this article) have English subtitles on-hand to help you out.
Even if your only knowledge of Shakespeare is a distant memory of a dog-eared library book in school, you’re bound to be able to follow Romeo and Juliet (or in this particular case Romeu e Julieta) with little trouble. Performed by Grupo Galpao, a Brazilian theatre company from the city of Belo Horizonte, this Portuguese language adaptation is heavily influenced by street performance and includes some subtle (and not so subtle) nods towards Brazilian culture and themes.
There’s nothing quite like a bit of rain to bring an open theatre to life, and that’s exactly what greeted The Vakhtangov Theatre on their first visit to the UK. Named after famous Soviet actor and director Eugene Vakhtangov, here the company perform Measure for Measure in their native tongue of Russian to a rather wet theatre. The plot is typically Shakespeare with lashings of blackmail and hypocrisy doing the rounds in this tale of Angelo’s power grab in Vienna and subsequent attempt to crackdown on what he sees as acts of indecency.
Fresh and contemporary spins on Shakespeare classics have been doing the rounds for a while now, with the idea being that adapting the language and style makes the story more accessible to a broader audience. You’ve probably never seen Othello performed quite like this before, as The Chicago Shakespeare Theater take on this classic tale of race, family and murder in a hip-hop style. This is one is particularly good as it will challenge your perception of what a Shakespeare play could be while entertaining you beyond belief in the process.
The Belarus Free Theatre are a company with no official registration or base of operations in their home country of Belarus in eastern Europe. Described as a dictatorship, accused of undemocratic voting and governmental election rigging, Belarus seen by the rest of Europe as a dictatorship and thus the Belarus Free Theatre are limited to performing wherever they can under the constant threat of arrest. Here they take on King Lear, a tale of a British king who demands his daughters impress him for the rights to the land, splitting up a family as war with France fast approaches.
Note: This one might fall under the “NSFW” classification for nudity, though you probably shouldn’t be watching hours of Shakespeare at work really anyway.
Performed by Poland’s Teatr im Kochanowskiego, this dark play which is often romanticized with tales of superstition and bad luck is delivered in Polish to a packed Globe. The performance company has been staging performances since 1975 and has earned somewhat of a reputation for bold and risky theatre. The play itself is synonymous with Shakespeare’s dark style, mixing themes of greed and opportunism with regret and solitude as Macbeth murders his way to the top only to be racked by guilt and fearful of his remaining enemies.
Kyoto-based performers from the Chiten theatre company perform Coriolanus, a perhaps lesser known tale of war, revenge and settling scores in Japanese with English subtitles. The company is well-known for its far eastern spin on western tales, and this is no exception. The tale of Coriolanus’ rise to power, banishment and road to peace is a thrilling one, and now you can enjoy it with an oriental twist.
There are of course plenty more Shakespeare plays on The Space, though not all of them include English subtitles. Some are accompanied with scene descriptions rather than subtitling, but the fact that they’re all available to watch for free online is great and no fan of Shakespeare or live performance should miss out.
Did you enjoy this article? Any favourite Shakespeare plays or moments? Add your thoughts to the comments below this post.