Shakespeare: Globe to Globe
October 30, 2012 5:19 AM   Subscribe

Shakespeare: Globe to Globe was a series of 37 Shakespeare plays performed in 37 different languages presented at the reconstructed Shakespeare Globe theatre in London this summer.

Among the plays that can be viewed with subtitles (rather than scene descriptions) are:

- The Tempest, performed in Bangla

- The Winter's Tale, performed in Yoruba

- Titus Andronicus, performed in Cantonese

- Antony and Cleopatra, performed in Turkish

- The Merchant of Venice, performed in Hebrew
posted by Egg Shen (20 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I missed the entire season, so this is an absolute godsend - thanks! In addition to Egg Shen's selection, the general consensus among our PhD students was that the Belarussian King Lear was pretty special - and now it's here with subtitles. So much for work today.
posted by bebrogued at 5:39 AM on October 30, 2012


I've seen a Shakespeare play or two and I hope one day they will be performed in English.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:13 AM on October 30, 2012


Thanks for posting this--I missed the Titus, coincidentally enough because I was rehearsing for another Shakespeare play somewhere else that night, and I didn't know it had been put up for viewing anywhere.

(I was really disappointed I missed it, too. I don't speak a single word of Cantonese, but I know the story well enough that I could have followed along.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:44 AM on October 30, 2012


You have never experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.
posted by Segundus at 6:53 AM on October 30, 2012


I was told back in a Theater History course that Shakespeare has been translated into many modern foreign languages, and that the translated plays were quite popular without the "language barrier" that we (sort of) have in English.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:23 AM on October 30, 2012


Shakespeare has been translated into many modern foreign languages

Is there a list of all the languages into which has been translated at least one of the plays?
posted by Egg Shen at 7:41 AM on October 30, 2012


Very neat, thank you! A varied mix of languages, including many I wasn't expecting. I'm looking forward to watching the BSL one.
..."Hip Hop" is a language?
posted by Gordafarin at 7:49 AM on October 30, 2012


I was told back in a Theater History course that Shakespeare has been translated into many modern foreign languages, and that the translated plays were quite popular without the "language barrier" that we (sort of) have in English.

A bit like the old saw that Shakespeare is better in German than English.

Is there a list of all the languages into which has been translated at least one of the plays?

There's this list for European languages. Not sure about a list for other languages, but I've used this page in the past for links to global Shakespeares.
posted by bebrogued at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


37? Well, Othello was performed in the Universal Language of Hip Hop. But I suppose it counts as english...

Some missed opportunities:

-MacBeth in Scots
-Hamlet in Danish
posted by Sourisnoire at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2012


I was in London and visited the Globe while this was going on - didn't get to see a show itself, but I visited right when one of the troupes was finishing rehearsal and they let us into the space during the tail end of things. I can't remember which play it was - only that the cast was from a nation with a somewhat strict Muslim theocracy.

I only know that because the tour guide mentioned the Elizabethan convention about women not being allowed to perform in any of Shakespeare's original productions - then she got a funny look on her face, and turned around and gestured to the cast on the stage before us, discussing the day's rehearsal with the director, and she remarked that she'd heard from a couple of the women in the cast of that very show that they'd also faced challenges pursuing careers as actresses themselves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on October 30, 2012


I've seen a Shakespeare play or two and I hope one day they will be performed in English

See also: John McWhorter, The Real Shakespearean Tragedy: It’s been 400-plus years. Is it time to translate the Bard into understandable English?

I can't understand most of what is said in any Shakespeare play without subtitles and heavy annotation. The speech is in a very old form of English, is written poetically, and contains numerous historical phrases and allusions that I don't know. Any one of these would be a roadblock to comprehension, and so I simply don't have the ability to parse most of the conversations or soliloquies in real time. Throw in "creative", poorly enunciated acting (like Orson Welles' odious fat-guy burbling in Chimes at Midnight), and I take less from a Shakespeare performance than I do from a Telemundo sitcom on three years of highschool Spanish.

This all suggests that translated versions of Shakespeare are probably much more comprehensible to nonEnglish-speaking people than unmodified Shakespeare is to English-speaking people. (And given it's continued cultural status, its no surprise that large numbers of average people in the English-speaking world feel the need to lie about liking or being able to understand Shakespeare to feel adequate. To the culture snobs and conservatives, I suppose this taboo inaccessibility is a feature not a bug, much as the inscrutability of the Old Testament gives the preachers of old world religions a kind of mystical legitimacy.)

Interestingly there are scripts that are written in a Shakespeare-imitation style using modern English that are much easier to parse in real time; the 1960s movies A Man For All Seasons and A Lion in Winter seem to do this and they are both genuinely witty and watchable for a normal person in a way that Shakespeare could be if it was appropriately modified for modern audiences.
posted by dgaicun at 10:18 AM on October 30, 2012


The diversity of language is really impressive
posted by Bwithh at 10:29 AM on October 30, 2012


This is terrific. But is there any way to get a list of the plays and languages without clicking on each one in the linked page, which is beautiful but maddeningly unhelpful?
posted by languagehat at 1:10 PM on October 30, 2012


I saw Henry V, which was a Globe production in English that closed the festival and had a great cast. They put on extra shows afterwards due to high demand. It was worth every penny.

This all suggests that translated versions of Shakespeare are probably much more comprehensible to nonEnglish-speaking people than unmodified Shakespeare is to English-speaking people.

It is interesting to consider that some of the translations are so old that they are becoming incomprehensible themselves.
posted by ersatz at 4:20 PM on October 30, 2012


lh, you can see a 'list' (more of a roll really) here.
posted by ersatz at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2012


You have never experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.

taH pagh taHbe'
posted by homunculus at 5:27 PM on October 30, 2012


McWhorter strikes me as more than a bit of a whiner.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:37 PM on October 30, 2012


A Man For All Seasons and A Lion in Winter seem to do this and they are both genuinely witty and watchable for a normal person

Has this guy actually sat through the 134 minutes of wailing and scenery-chewing that is The Lion In Winter?
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:41 PM on October 30, 2012


Unfortunately for rights reasons, this lot will apparently disappear tonight at midnight GMT. At least that's the impression which has been given in the press during the announcement of The Space's extension. But there's no indication on the site. Hum.
posted by feelinglistless at 7:51 AM on October 31, 2012


It's not midnight yet but now I only see three plays.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:07 PM on October 31, 2012


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