Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

"Would They Not Wish the Feast Might Ever Last?": Strong Spice, Oral History and the Genesis of Globe to Globe

Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

"Would They Not Wish the Feast Might Ever Last?": Strong Spice, Oral History and the Genesis of Globe to Globe

Article excerpt

Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance vol. 11 (26), 2014; DOI: 10.2478/mopa-2014-0003

Abstract: The 2012 Globe to Globe Festival proved a great success. Actors, directors, musicians, dancers, designers and technicians travelled from all over the world to perform on the Globe stage. Visitors to Londons Cultural Olympiad enjoyed six jam-packed weeks of Shakespeare, presented in an array of international languages. The Globes Artistic Director, Dominic Dromgoole, and his Festival Director, Tom Bird, had achieved what seemed, to many, the impossible. Nonetheless, filmed interviews with Dromgoole and Bird, conducted during the festival by the American documentary-maker Steve Rowland, offer tantalizing insights into the genesis of the festival venture. These candid interviews confirm the sometimes farcical, often exhausting, but invariably serendipitous truth behind the Globe to Globe Festivals short, intense history. Although the Globe was flying completely blind, it still succeeded in hosting a glorious feast of Shakespearean delights, seasoned with the strong spice of multiculturality.

Keywords: Globe to Globe Festival 2012; Dominic Dromgoole; Shakespeare; Cultural Olympiad; Globe Theatre.

We had no idea whether itll work or not and we had no idea what we were doing. And we were flying completely blind.

(Dominic Dromgoole, Interview by Steve Rowland, 2 May 2012)

2012 was a significant year in Shakespeare history. International festivals brought communities of performers, artists, and academics together in unprecedented ways. The Cultural Olympiad, an inspired offshoot antidote to Londons more famous sporting event, promised its alternative adrenaline rush of creative dialogue manifesting in international artistic exchange. The World Shakespeare Festival, a culturally ambitious project under the Cultural Olympiads imaginative umbrella, focused specifically on Britains Bard, with invitations extended to theatre companies to express their engagement with Shakespeare in a year when the world seemed set to travel to the playwrights native soil. Languages and dialects from across the globe resonated in the

Assistant Professor of English, Oxford College of Emory University.

Kevin A. Quarmby

Would they not wish the feast might ever last?: Strong Spice, Oral History and the Genesis of Globe to Globe


Kevin A. Quarmby

theatrical and artistic spaces of the UK. As Susan Bennett and Christie Carson explored in Shakespeare Beyond English, one London base, Shakespeares Globe Theatre, became a focal point for this cultural celebration. For an intense six weeks between April and June of that year, theatre companies from Serbia to China, New Zealand to Afghanistan, South Sudan to South Korea, were stirred to offer their own versions of that quintessentially British cultural phenomenon, Shakespeare. The Globe to Globe Festival invited thirty-five international production houses (not including the Globes own company, the London-based Definitely Theatre, and the UK-exiled Belarus Free Theatre) to travel to Britains capital and perform most only twice on the Globe stage. A matinee and an evening performance was the norm: no more, no less.1 As Bennett and Carsons book suggests, the effect not only on the Globe audiences, but also on those involved, was life changing and life enhancing. The Globes Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, and Festival Director Tom Bird, whose privately recorded observations form the main source for this article, had fulfilled their seemingly impossible promise to celebrate the international appeal of Shakespeare when the eyes an dears (and newsgathering media technology) of the world were concentrated wholly on and in London. The impossible was made possible through hard work, gargantuan effort, near military organizational precision, and, in Dromgooles own words, great good luck (Bennett and Carson xxiii).

For the international theatre practitioners who participated in the Globe to Globe Festival actors, directors, designers, choreographers, composers, musicians, dancers, singers, poets the experience would never be forgotten. …

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