Happy New Year! It is time to look back at the year in review for “A Great Feast of Languages: Global Shakespeare News.”
Last December, I began my first post for The Shakespeare Standard. TSS wanted to develop a Saturday feature on Shakespeare and Language(s), and I offered to write a weekly column focusing on non-Anglophone and global Shakespeare. Soon after, the Saturday Language was solidified by Josh Magsam’s monthly column “Talking in Signs,”which “highlights websites, digital tools, and teaching and performance practices that re-imagine, re-conceptualize, and reconfigure Shakespeare’s language for the twenty-first century.” And even more recently, Clara Biesel has joined the Saturday Language feature, with her weekly column “A Rhapsody of Words” in which she “gathers and presents the news related to Shakespeare’s use of words, and how teachers, directors, artists of all kinds are continuing dialogue with those words and what they mean to the world today.”
During this last year, I have become a bit of an explorer discovering and sharing news stories concerning Shakespeare from around the globe. For my first post, I traveled no further than the Globe Theatre itself, as the Shakespearean world came to London during summer 2012. In conjunction with London’s hosting of the Olympics, Shakespeare was the center of the Cultural Olympiad, from the World Shakespeare (70+ Shakespearean productions—both British and international–that toured the UK) to the innovative and ambitious Globe to Globe performances, 37 plays performed in 37 languages this summer at London’s Globe Theatre.
Since then, I have covered different countries, regions, and continents (and hope to cover many more in 2014):
- Shakespeare in India Part 1, Part 2
- Shakespeare in Carriacou
- Shakespeare in Brazil
- Shakespeare in New Zealand
- Shakespeare in Australia
- Shakespeare in Japan
- Shakespeare in Italy
I’ve been able to conduct interviews with Global Shakespeare scholars, film directors, and theatre practitioners, learning so much on Shakespeare’s global influence in the process:
- Professor Mark Burnett, Queen’s University, Belfast
- Professor Alexa Huang, George Washington University and
- Professor Margaret Litvin, Boston University
- Ing K, director of Shakespeare Must Die
- Guy Roberts, CEO & Artistic Director of the Prague Shakespeare Company
I’ve had the opportunity to review works such as the Italian prison documentary Caesar Must Die, the Nelson Mandela-inspired Royal Shakespeare Company production of Julius Caesar, offer lists of relevant calls for papers, and turn to issues of multilingual, multiracial, and multiethnic productions in the USA, Canada, and the UK.
A Great Feast of Languages has even been cited in several Shakespearean news venues over the last year!:
- “European Summer Shakespeare Festivals” has been incorporated into Hardy M. Cook’s extensive list of Shakespeare’s Plays and Festivals on Shaksper: the Global Electronic Shaksper Conference
- Several of our interviews, as well as Josh Magsam’s review of Global Shakespeares, have been excerpted and shared on MIT Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archives
- The articles on Shakespeare Must Die even appeared on a Thai PBS news story on the film
The biggest news story I have covered is the ongoing saga of the Thai film, Shakespeare Must Die.
Serendipitously, I came across a snippet of a story about the documentary Censor Must Die. I composed a short piece on the documentary and soon ‘friended’ Shakespeare Must Die on Facebook, receiving a thank-you message for running the story, as the film has not received much attention in U.S. and U.K. media. I decided to email the director Ing K and asked for an email interview; this was the beginning of a long-distance and long-term email correspondence. A full-length version of the interview with director Ing K is available on MIT Global Shakespeares and an edited version on TSS. The film’s trailer is now also available and introduced on MIT Global Shakespeares.
The story of Shakespeare Must Die is far from over and I plan on continuing coverage in 2014. While Censor Must Die has been exempt from the censorship board as a documentary film (but still not widely available in theatres afraid of repercussions for showing the film), Shakespeare Must Die remains banned in its homeland. Nevertheless, the film has started to garner international acclaim–winning two major awards at the Tripoli film festival–, and both Shakespeare Must Die and Censor Must Die will be screened at the Asian Shakespeare Association‘s inaugural conference in Taipei and director Ing K will be speaking about her films. After two months of protests against current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the fear that her brother, the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, may return from exile, the politics of Shakespeare Must Die are more topical and relevant than ever.
And for 2014?
- In 2014, the Globe’s production of Hamlet will travel the globe. The first stop (#1) will be at the Globe Theatre on April 23, 1614–Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Stop #204 Rift Valley, Kenya, (“where human life began on Earth”–artistic director Dromgoole) and Stop #205, Hamlet’s own home, Elsinore Castle, are two of the last stops. The last stop (#206), two full years later on April 13, 1616, on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, will return the world weary troupe back to the Globe Theatre. We will be following along Hamlet’s journey for several features in 2014.
- Interviews with more directors, scholars, and actors who work on global Shakespeare
- More reviews of non-Anglophone Shakespeare films
- Continued coverage of Shakespeare Must Die
- Highlighting new areas of interest–any place where Shakespeare is happening
First News Briefs of the New Year:
Take a picture of your hometown’s Shakespeare!: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is currently running a contest to find the best “Famous Beyond Words” image. “Images submitted to this project should aim to highlight the influence of Shakespeare on our towns, cities and everyday lives. As an example, photographs might depict a Shakespearian street sign, a public piece of art or any landmark influenced by or named after Shakespeare or his works.”
Submissions should include a photo caption including a short description of your photo and the name of the photographer(s). To submit a photograph for consideration for our exhibition and entry into our competition to win a Pentax Q10 camera, upload your image to Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter and tag it using the hashtag: #FamousBeyondWords. Entries via any other social media platforms will not be considered. Photographs can also be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!What would YOU like to see covered in 2014? If you would like to share more information about a Global Shakespeare or non-Anglophone Shakespearean production, film, website, etc., please email me at email@example.com with the subject line “Global Shakespeare.” The Shakespeare Standard is an online Shakespeare forum dedicated to bringing the online community Shakespearean news about performance, scholarship, and multimedia every day. Please join us here at our site or on Facebook or Twitter to discuss the latest things of interest in Shakespeare news. If you would like to share more information about a Global Shakespeare or non-Anglophone Shakespearean production, film, website, etc., please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Global Shakespeare.”