Serbia, Albania & Macedonia Join Forces For Shakespearean Trilogy

26. September, 2011 Culture No comments

Serbia, Albania and Macedonia will come together at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a unique run of performances of all three parts of Henry VI as part of an ambitious cultural festival. Actors from the three national theatres will fly to London to take part in what is billed as a Balkan Trilogy of Shakespeare – and each theatre troupe will perform Shakespeare in their own language and costumes.

Globe to Globe, which falls within the World Shakespeare Festival as a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, will see 37 international theatre companies presenting all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in37 different languages. Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian will join the long list of languages to be performed, including languages less frequently heard on the British stage.

The festivals are funded by the National Lottery as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Shakespeare’s plays have gone on many journeys,’ said Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director ofShakespeare’s Globe. “They have changed the world and they have reminded people all over the world of ourdazzling and infinite difference and our strange and humbling commonality. Weare delighted to be bringing these plays, dressed in the clothes of many peoples, back home.” Among the more unfamiliar presentations of Shakespeare will be a hip-hop version from Chicago and the first full performance in British Sign Language.

Over lunch at London’s Globe Theatre, Dominic explained how he came up with the idea of bringing together the three nations to perform Shakespeare’s trilogy about the English Civil War for the first time at London’s Globe Theatre. “It wasn’t always easy to find a home for some of the less celebrated plays and the three Henry VI plays presented a challenge all of their own. We considered the theme of these three electrifying plays, England’s first great civil war, and hit on the idea of trying to find three countries which had a particular relationship with each other.

“So we are going to present the new Balkan trilogy, an epic and sweeping telling of these three plays by thenational theatres of Serbia, Albania and Macedonia. Each of these theatres has a long and distinguished track record, but this is the first time they have been brought together.

We took the idea to them because we conceived of them asthe answer to a question that had been torturing us about how to deal with those three plays.They were quickly responsive to doing it. They thought it was a great idea and were very happy to join in. To our surprise, they communicate with each other a lot, spend a lot of time in each other’s theatres, and they all get together and dine once a month, so there is a degree of collaboration there that we had not expected. So on one great Sunday, all three great enactments of riot and rebellion will be presented and Southwark will go temporarily Balkan. So brace yourselves.”

Award-winning Serbian director Nikita Milivojević,who will be making his British debut with the first part of the Henry VI trilogy, will lead the National Theatre Belgrade. Milivojević was previously artistic director of Serbia’s celebrated BITEF cultural festival and forum. Established in 1861, the Serbian National Theatre is no stranger to the Bard, having staged many fine performances in its two Belgrade home theatres. This production is presented in association with The Laza Kostić Fund, which promotes the art, culture and traditions of Serbia. Respected writer and academic Kostić was renowned as a greatadmirer, critic and translator of Shakespeare, having painstakingly translated four tragedies into Serbia, strictly adhering to the bard’s iambic pentameter structure. HenryVI Part I will be staged at 19:30 on 11 May and 12:30 on 13 May.

Adonis Filipi will direct the National Theatre of Albania in Henry VI Part II. In its sixty-six year history, the Albanian National Theatre has staged around 360 productions, including foreign plays and controversial writers. Filipi has more than 30 years of experience directing and managing theatres and festivals around Europe. Henry VI Part II will be staged at 14:30 on 12 May and 16:00 on 13 May.

The civil war trilogy will be completed by the National Theatre of Bitola, who promise to deliver a performance rich in traditional Macedonian song and costume. Founded in 1945, the theatre is a driving force inthe region, working hard to combine theatre tradition with modern exploration to cater to audiences of all ages and tastes. When Artistic Director Dejan Lilić took over the company, it was in debt and had no clear direction. Since then, Lilić has developed avibrant programme and profile for the national troupe. Henry VI Part III will be staged at 19:30 on 12 May and 13 May.

Other performances include the Isango Ensemble from South Africa, who will perform an adaptation of Venus and Adonis in the opening weekend, representations of Maori culture in a production of Troilus and Cressida from New Zealand, and The Merchant of Venice, presented in Hebrew by the Israeli National Theatre.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, will be represented with a specially formed company that sent an impassioned 20-page document pleading for the chance to perform their production of Cymbeline. Other firsts for the festival include the National Theatre of China, who will perform Richard III on the first UK visit by the acclaimed company whose productions represent a new face of Chinese theatre.

The Belarus Free Theatre, who work under fear of state persecution, will present their version of King Lear. From Ramallah in Palestine, the Ashtar Theatre will present its interpretation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Richard II. From Afghanistan, the Roy-e-Sabs company will leave Kabul for the first time to bring a production of The Comedy of Errors to The Globe. Until it was recently bombed, the company was rehearsing in the compound of the British Council. Undeterred, they will bring their show to London.

Globe to Globe will run for six weeks from 23 April 2012. Priority ticketswill be on sale from 27 September and on general sale from 17 October. Prices start at just £5 (standing) and £10 (seated), and there are various multi-buy schemes in place, including the Yard Olympian, which will allow access to one performance of each production for £100. Full details can be found at or via the box office on 020 7401 9919.

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