Theatre companies from all over the world are coming to England in 2012.
More than a million tickets go on sale next month for an explosion of Shakespeare productions that will coincide with the London Olympics. They will involve thousands of actors, hundreds of professional and amateur theatre companies, and scores of languages, all part of the biggest Shakespeare festival ever organised.
Details were announced as new research commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the British Council revealed that the bard is the world's most studied author. His work is a compulsory secondary school subject in countries including Azerbaijan, China, Oman, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The Globe, the recreation of Shakespeare's own theatre on the bank of the Thames in London, is mounting all 37 of his plays, presented by guest companies in 37 languages, including Arabic, Yoruba and Armenian. Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole is particularly proud of including a company from the newest country in the world, South Sudan. An Iraqi company is bringing a Romeo and Juliet, where the warring families are Sunni and Shia, and a company from Tunisia is staging a version of Macbeth looking at power and repression among Arab leaders. At Stratford-upon-Avon, Dmitry Krymov will present the world premiere of his version of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Russian, a Brazilian company using circus skills is tackling Richard II and the National Theatre of Mexico is creating a political thriller about the Aztecs, based on Shakespeare's history plays. The RSC and National Theatre are also participating, and the British Museum is creating an exhibition, Staging the World, looking at the rest of the world as Shakespearean audiences understood it.
The World Shakespeare Festival 2012 will run from April to September. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011