As I was booking my tickets for the Globle Theatre’s 2012 season, I came across this exciting and ‘unprecedented’ programme: Globe to Globe. This new programme, part of the World Shakespeare Festival for London 2012, will stage Shakespeare in 37 languages, through the Globe Theatre’s collaboration with 37 international companies. As someone who has roots both in the UK and elsewhere, and as someone who speaks four languages, I am thrilled about this.
As the world is rapidly changing, and as emerging economies are set to become economically stronger than many Western countries, I have long argued that Britain needs to look out, not just in finance and business but in arts too. I have also been of the view that British theatre needs to expand its audience group. Too many London theatres use the membership economic model and while I am not critical of this model, I do find that sometimes we get productions that appeal to a specific demographic profile of audience. There is always a balance to be struck but, now more than ever must surely be the time to think seriously hard about reaching out to different groups of audiences in an international city like London. Staging some of the acclaimed international writing from outside of US and UK will be a good starting point, I think.
As it happens, Shakespeare’s works are easily accessible to and loved by many people from all around the world because they lend themselves to be modified to complement other cultures and languages. The Globe Theatre deserves widespread plaudit for this new adventure. Recently the UK media has been giving lots of column inches and airspace to Donmar; I do hope that they give just as much attention to the Globe Theatre’s excellent efforts to bring possibly a newer global audience to an historic English playwright.