Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you,
trippingly on the tongue…
Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2
...And speak it in Russian, French or German. Shakespeare has proven to be a remarkably translatable playwright. Across shifts in time, space and language Shakespeare emerges intact, or even enriched. How is it that Richard III is as relevant today as it was 400 years ago? How is it that Twelfth Night can be transposed onto a seaside holiday resort and lose none its punch? How is it that Measure for Measure gains a new resonance, a new spark, when translated into Russian?
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and the Edinburgh International Festival is celebrating him in truly international style with three unique productions – none of them in English.
Richard III by Thomas Ostermeier (German), Measure for Measure by Declan Donnellan (Russian) and Shake, a five-person reimaging of Twelfth Night by Dan Jemmett (French) all cast new light on the Bard’s plays.
Thomas Ostermeier and Schaubühne Berlin’s Richard III is a gritty, provocative reimagining of Shakespeare’s original. Measure for Measure by Cheek by Jowl and Pushkin Theatre draws unsettling parallels with contemporary issues of privacy and surveillance. Charming and a tad delirious, Dan Jemmett’s Shake sets Twelfth Night at a seaside resort in the 1970s.
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As a truly international arts organisation, the International Festival is well placed to present different approaches to Shakespeare from around the world - illustrating what Shakespeare means in different places and how deeply political he is as a playwright.
Shakespeare might be Britain’s greatest playwright, but his influence extends beyond these shores into other languages and other contexts – his plays gaining meaning and lustre as they go.
Richard III © Arno Declair
Measure For Measure © Johann Persson
Shake © Mario Del Curto