A FESTIVAL that will see Shakespeare’s 37 plays performed in 37 languages, from Swahili to sign language, has got under way.

Globe To Globe is just one element of the World Shakespeare Festival, which was launched on Monday, the anniversary of the playwright’s birth. It is part of the London 2012 Festival, which ties in with the summer Olympics.

As well as the multi-lingual plays, there will be dozens of Shakespeare productions across the UK. Globe To Globe will feature King Lear performed in Belarusian, Hamlet in Lithuanian and Othello re-interpreted through hip-hop.

The polyglot performances are taking place at the Globe Theatre, the replica of Shakespeare’s original theatre. Globe To Globe artistic director Tom Bird said it was not difficult to follow the stories even if you did not speak the languages being spoken by the actors.

“What I’ve found from travelling around the world is that you get an incredible sense of what’s going on in a show, even from the way people move on the stage and the things people wear,” he said.

“What’s surprised me more than anything is the way people have taken Shakespeare to their hearts all around the world. “People don’t think of him as an English poet, they think of him as part of the world culture.”

Globe To Globe is part of the wider The World Shakespeare Festival, which is co-ordinated by the Royal Shakespeare Company.               –BBC