Shakespeare Festival to Kick Off with Maori Version of Troilus and Cressida

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S birthday is to be celebrated during 2012’s Cultural Olympiad with a version of Troilus and Cressida in Maori featuring the famous Haka war dance, as currently on show at the Rugby World Cup.

The performance by New Zealand’s Ngakau Toa company on 23 April leads off the Globe to Globe section of the Cultural Olympiad, during which all 37 of the Bard’s theatrical works are to be staged in 37 different languages, all at Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank.

Among the foreign tongues to be heard at the World Shakespeare Festival next year will be Hindi, for Twelfth Night; Greek (Pericles); Swahili (The Merry Wives of Windsor) and even hip-hop (Othello).

But perhaps the most eagerly awaited of all is sign language, to be used for Love’s Labour’s Lost, as performed by London’s own Deafinitely Theatre group. It is believed to be the first time a full Shakespeare play has ever been put on in British Sign Language.

The Globe’s artistic director Dominic Dromgole reserved special praise for a group from South Sudan, which is taking on Cymbeline in Juba Arabic, the new country’s local dialect.

“The size of their desire to come here was simply overwhelming,” said Dromgole.

“Out of the horrific troubles suffered by this country’s people, the first signs of hope for the future are springing. This production marks an historic step for the country’s future.”