If Juliet (of the Romeo & Juliet fame) thought there was nothing in a name with a rose likely to smell “as sweet” by “any other name,” the Royal Shakespeare Company (RCS) appears to believe that there's nothing in a language either and a play by Shakespeare is a play by Shakespeare in any language.
In a unique experiment to mark the great bard and playwright's 448th birth anniversary, the RSC on Monday launched a festival, which will see his 37 plays performed in 37 different languages from Swahili to sign language.
The polyglot will be treated to Twelfth Night in Hindi, All's Well That Ends Well in Gujarati, King Lear in Belarusian, Hamlet in Lithuanian and Othello re-interpreted through hip-hop.
Globe To Globe, which got under way at London's Globe theatre where Shakespeare's work was first staged more than 400 years ago, is part of an ambitious summer-long London-2012 Festival, which ties in with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic Games.
Its artistic director Tom Bird said language was no barrier to following Shakespeare's work. The stories, he told through his plays, could be understood in any language.
“What I've found from travelling around the world is that you get an incredible sense of what's going on in a show, even from the way people move on the stage and the things people wear,” he told the BBC.
He said he was “surprised” how people around the world had taken Shakespeare to their hearts.
“People don't think of him as an English poet, they think of him as part of the world culture,” Mr. Bird said.
Globe To Globe is part of a bigger World Shakespeare Festival to be held across Britain through the summer with theatre companies from 50 countries, including India, performing Shakespeare's plays in their native languages. What's in a language after all?
Keywords: Shakespeare birth anniversary