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Bob Young, Carol Kelly, me, and Chris Shamburg at Worlds Together Conference.

Team Folger just returned from  the Worlds Together Conference, part of the World Shakespeare Festival in London.

Worlds Together was a collaboration between Tate Modern, Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and British Museum. This international conference brought together artists and educators to explore the place of Shakespeare and the arts in young people’s learning today. Held at the Tate Modern Museum on Bankside, it hosted over 100 speakers and contributors from 23 countries across three days.

Day 1 included Keynotes from Shirley Brice Heath and James Shapiro.  In addition, Peggy O’Brien, Cis Berry, and others led a provocative Panel Discussion on “Why Shakespeare’s Words Matter.”

The Folger Team led our workshop on Day 2 with an emphasis on language and performance. In addition, Chris Shamburg showed some wonderful techniques to make Shakespeare’s words come alive with technology.

Another partner in the Conference was the British Museum where we saw their exhibit, Shakespeare Staging the World. That exhibit is well-worth attending and it runs until November 25.

In our off time, we attended a performance of The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Bob Young and I also saw a fabulous production of Timon of Athens at the National Theater starring Simon Russell Beale. 

Next stop for Team Folger: The NCTE Conference in Las Vegas. We hope to see you there.

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Image from Shakespeare’s Globe

As I mentioned in my post, “Oh, to Be in England” on May 3,  Shakespeare’s Globe is presenting a marathon of 37 plays with acting companies from around the world. But if you can’t get to the Globe to Globe Festival, there is now an alternative. A UK site called The Space is running  full-length videos of them for free. And the best part is, you don’t need to stand in the cold and rain as the audiences seem to be in these videos.

Here are the ones available at this posting:

Image from The Space

  • Twelfth Night by Mumbai’s Company Theatre is a colorful and musical version, filled with dancing, performed in Hindi with scene descriptions in English. Lyn Gardner in London’s Guardian wrote, “The beguiling, melancholy heart of the play is ignored in favour of non-stop jokes. Fun? Definitely. Accessible? Completely, even if you didn’t speak the language.”

Image from The Space

  • Measure for Measure is performed in Russian (with English subtitles) by Moscow’s Vakhtangov Theatre. Critic Veronica Lee said of this production in The Arts Desk, “What a joy this once-in-a-generation season is. From Moscow comes this free-wheeling production of Shakespeare’s great morality play.”

Image from The Space

  • Pericles is performed in Greek with scene description in English. “Thanks to a slapstick production courtesy of the National Theatre of Greece, and the Globe’s ambiance (helped by the fact that the rain stayed off), better than you might imagine – not least because London’s Hellenic community seemed to be out in force to watch it,” wrote Alex Needham in The Guardian.

Image from The Space

  • Venus and Adonis is performed in a variety of languages by the Isango ensemble from Cape Town, South Africa. Spoken in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SeSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans & South African English, the production is musically and visually thrilling. While this is not a play but a narrative poem, it counts as number 38 for the Globe.

Image from The Space

  • Richard III is  performed in Mandarin (with scene descriptions in English) by the National Theatre of China. According to the Year of Shakespeare Blog, “the production was preceded by Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe’s Artistic Director, announcing that all of the production’s equipment was in a shipping container stranded somewhere between Beijing and London.  The costumes and props we were about to see, he explained, had been cobbled together at the last minute from the Globe’s stores.”

Image from The Space

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream is performed in Korean (with scene description in English) by the Yohangza Theatre Company. According to Adele Lee, “Performed in a mixture of Korean theatre styles, including song, dance, mime, acrobatics and martial arts, the production was vibrant, energetic and immensely enjoyable, and the cast did a great job of overcoming the language barrier and forming an excellent rapport with the predominantly English-language speaking audience. “

So far that’s all the videos that The Space has posted, but if you want to see the rest of the Globe’s season, keep checking it out. And if you do watch any of these full-length productions, be sure to add your comments below.

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When he wrote  “Home Thoughts from Abroad” in April 1845, Robert Browning yearned to be back home in England. But in the spring and summer of 2012, Shakespeare lovers might yearn to be in England  because Shakespeare is blooming everywhere.

As part of the Cultural Olympiad, the London 2012 Festival features more Shakespeare than has ever been assembled anywhere.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is hosting the World Shakespeare Festival which features a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright with over 50 arts organizations and thousands of UK and international artists,  thousands of teachers and young people, seventy productions and exhibitions, plus events and activities, right across the UK and online. The RSC estimates that one million tickets will be on sale, so if you get to England, you’re sure to see tons of Shakespeare.

The Folger will be represented at the RSC’s Worlds Together, an international conference exploring the value of Shakespeare and the arts in young people’s lives. The conference, held at London’s Tate Modern, runs from Thursday September 6 to Saturday September 8.

Meanwhile at Shakespeare’s Globe, one can see 37 plays in 37 languages in six weeks. Their Globe to Globe program began in April and runs until June 9. Some of the more unusual choices are Romeo and Juliet in Brazilian Portuguese,  The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew, and The Taming of the Shrew in Urdu. According to the Globe, if you’re prepared to stand, you can see every play of Shakespeare’s, each in a different language, for only £100.

Shakespeare: Staging the World is on at the British Museum from July 19  to  November 25. According to the museum, “the exhibition provides a unique insight into the emerging role of London as a world city, seen through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare’s plays. It also explores the pivotal role of the playhouse as a window to the world outside London, and the playwright’s importance in shaping a new sense of national identity.” Find out more about the exhibition and book your tickets here.

But what about those of us who can’t get to England?

Well, summertime is always outdoor Shakespeare time, so check out those productions in your local area.

Starting in June, BBC television will air new versions of four history plays — Richard II, both parts of Henry IV and Henry V. All four were directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes and feature Jeremy Irons, Julie Walters, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey) and John Hurt. Those of us in the US may eventually get them via PBS, though no date has yet been set.

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