Shakespeare Fest to be celebrated in Turkish

Shakespeare Fest to be celebrated in Turkish

Emrah Güler ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Shakespeare Fest to be celebrated in Turkish

Zerrin Tekindor (pictured) and Haluk Bilginer will perform Anthony and Cleopatra in Turkish for The World Shakespeare Festival. The festival will be celebrated with plays in different languages.

“Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch of the ranged empire fall!” So will Turkish stage and screen actor Haluk Bilginer cry on stage in London in late May.

These words by the Roman general Mark Antony in the Shakespeare tragedy “Antony and Cleopatra” will be uttered in Turkish as part of London’s six-week Globe to Globe event, which is staging plays by Shakespeare in 37 languages from Turkish and Swahili to sign language for the World Shakespeare Festival.

The World Shakespeare Festival, celebrating the bard and his work, will be part of the London 2012 Festival, a global extravaganza tying in with the upcoming Summer Olympics in London and celebrating culture through film, theater, music, fashion, visual arts and more.

The festival kicked off last week, coinciding with both Shakespeare’s birthday and the anniversary of his death. The plays in various languages will take place on the south bank of the River Thames at Shakespeare’s Globe, the replica of the original 17th century theater of the English playwright.

Recent British Council research revealed that Shakespeare’s plays are taught in half of the schools around the world. His plays are translated into over 80 languages, with hundreds of stage productions and movie adaptations added to a list that continues to inspire people around the planet.

The list of languages Shakespeare has been translated into will increase even further with Globe to Globe, where a group from South Sudan will perform “Pericles” in Juba Arabic, and “Comedy of Errors” from Afghanistan will go before audiences in Dari.

The recent performance of the Trojan War play “Troilus and Cressida” from New Zealand’s theater company Ngakau Toa in Maori made headlines when the play incorporated a haka (warrior dance) and waiata (song). Many will know the haka from New Zealand’s rugby matches. The warrior dance took a whole new meaning when a special haka was created for the scene in which Achilles calls his people to help him find and kill Hector.

Antony and Cleopatra to speak Turkish

Last weekend, the audience had the chance to hear the words, “’Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss,” from “Pericles” in Greek, by the Greek National Theater from where tragedy, comedy and the Olympic Games originated. The National Theater of China also was on stage during the weekend, performing “Richard III” in Mandarin with an interpretation that transformed the play into more Chinese than English.

The idea for Globe to Globe seems set to send theater-lovers not only to the plays they are able to understand but also to go get a feel for different interpretations even if they do not understand them word for word. This is evident in the Olympic-themed ticket packages that are offering a “Globe biathlon,” “triathlon” and “pentathlon” – as well as a discount to see all 37 productions for an audience most likely that doesn’t exist.

The Turkish production of “Antony and Cleopatra” (Antonius ile Kleopatra) will be staged on May 26 and 27 by Bilginer’s Istanbul-based company, Oyun Atölyesi, which staged “Timon of Athens,” “Macbeth” and “Othello” in the past. Bilginer is perhaps best-known to U.K. audiences not for his stage performances in the U.K. or minor roles in Hollywood productions, such as in the Warren Beatty comedy “Ishtar,” but for his role as the loveable womanizer Mehmet Osman in the British soap “EastEnders” in the 1980s.

Here, Bilginer will be accompanied by Zerrin Tekindor as Cleopatra and Globe regular Kevork Malikyan in the role of Enobarbus, Antony’s lieutenant, who will utter the famous lines about Cleopatra, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety,” or “Yıpratamaz zaman onun güzelliğini, solduramaz rengini bozamaz ahengini.”

Perhaps the most original tribute to Shakespeare might come not from the 37 theater groups visiting London but from Mark Ravenhill, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s writer in residence, who has written a sonnet himself to mark the global Shakespeare event. “I’ve tried to capture my love of Shakespeare,” Ravenhill told The Guardian. “It’s a sonnet for our times, not a pastiche of Shakespeare.”

Ravenhill’s sonnet starts like this: “I envy you. Your world was new, unmapped, / The language that you wrote in barely fixed; / You were Shagsbeer or Shaxpeer.” And for the Turkish audience watching “Antony and Cleopatra” in Shakespeare’s Globe, it will be Şekspir.