Friday, June 1, 2012

Globe to Globe Festival - Theatre through my eyes

Being a culture leech, I suck (or at least try to) every bit of information I possibly can about any hapennings around me related to the arts - painting, drama, music et al. No surprises there, that I know about the Globe to Globe (G2G) Festival taking place at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre near London's Bankside this British summer. G2G is a precursor to the heavyweight arriving in July-August-September called London2012 (the codeword for all things Olympic and Paralympic this year). It constitutes an important piece in the myriad kaleidoscopic Cultural Olympiad put together to raise our cheer quotient (C.Q.) before London2012 arrives in UK. Interestingly, the orignial Olympic games started as a series of art related contests; sport was added much later to the event schedule. Happy to know that the legacy continues and that we still take this festival to be a boiling caudron (melting pot is just so passé in our Potter-age) of culture. 

Having attended 11 shows (1 show in-spirit) I can confirm that G2G is a befitting cultural celebration from end April to the beginning of June. It deserves not five stars but many constellations (is there a collective noun for this collective noun?) for its sheer scale and titanic (FYI - Titanic celebrated it's sinking-centenary this year) proportion!

I was under the impression that the festival had many shows for each play. Luckily, on a press tour for Indian Compass in April I struck gold when I realized that only 2 to 3 shows of each production were scheduled (haw!). Having missed out on the Hindi production of the Twelfth Night due to my passiveness I was not at all ready to bear the pain of missing out on any upcoming shows that I wanted to see.

G2G is staging all 37 of Shakespeare's plays in 37 different languages - a great tagline to market the festival. But the obsessive geek that I also am I want to set the record straight. That count is discounting the fact that the festival started of with Isango Ensemble singing Venus and Adonis in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SoSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans and South African English; if you take that into ac'count', the total goes up to 38 plays in 44 languages/dialects (counting Hip Hop and Music as distinct languages).

I devised a strategy to hand-pick shows which would tickle my senses and leave me greedy for more excellent theatre. This was done due to two main reasons - lack of funding to see all 38 plays and lack of time. Tickets ranged from £5 to £35 and there were afternoon and evening shows. 

My budget permitted only £5 groundling (standing and watching the show in the yard) tickets and most evening shows thanks to my full-time day job (yes, it clearly doesn't pay well enough to buy me £35 tickets nor does it allow 3 hour lunch breaks for me to watch afternoon shows!)

I visited the website and read through every play and glanced through every picture. From this content analysis I matched those plays which met all or at least two of my criteria -
1. Is there some element of folk music (including musical instruments)?
2. Are there immaculate costumes and accessories (masks, make-up and the works)?
3. Is it in a language that I can speak or could easily grasp (anything related to Marwari, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Assamese, Maori, Persian, English, Marathi, Bangla, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)?
4. Do I already know the play?

This generated a list of 11 plays from the 38 on offer. I do feel a bit-blah that this mini-research was done after 7 plays were already over. Thus, it was more like selecting 11 from the remaning 31 shows. Add to this the fact that during my selection-process some shows were already fully-booked so even though the Chinese and Hip-Hop play passed my scrutiny-test, I could not make it for the shows due to lack of yard-space! More blah-ness to me...

But on the happy-ness, this was my G2G selection:
1. Midsummer Night's Dream in Korean
2. Julius Caesar in Italian
3. Cymbeline in Juba Arabic 
4. The Tempest in Bangla
5. Henry VI Part III in Macedonian
6. As You Like It in Georgian
7. Romeo and Juliet in Brazilian Portuguese
8. All's Well That Ends Well in Gujarati
9. Taming Of The Shrew in Urdu
10. Henry VIII in Castillian Spanish
11. Comedy of Errors in Dari Persian

A lot has been already spoken about about G2G and there are reviews gallore, and I hope to add onto that volume of words with my experience and observations of the festival.

This was the start to me teleporting this summer. With the tickets in place and passion for theatre filling my heart I set out to see the world from one end to the other, one stage to another - from Globe To Globe! Buckle up...

P.S. - Next blogbuster coming soon - Front row standing (re)view of Midsummer Night's Dream

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