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Chicago Shakespeare Theater hosts global Bard exchange

Updated: March 24, 2012 8:51AM

Ten leaders of major Shakespeare theaters and festivals throughout Europe — including those in Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Romania, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — gathered Wednesday at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. They were in town to talk about potential exchanges between Chicago Shakespeare’s World’s Stage series and their own stages; to trumpet Chicago Shakespeare’s entry into the “Globe to Globe” 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London (with a world premiere production of the Q Brothers’ “Othello: The Remix,” which will then travel onto Germany and eventually arrive in Chicago); to catch the three current shows on Navy Pier (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Feast: An Intimate Tempest,” and a young audiences version of “Taming of the Shrew”); and to explore one of Chicago’s “hidden treasures” — a First Folio of Shakespeare housed in the Newberry Library.

The keynote speaker for the event was Tom Bird, curator of the Globe to Globe Festival, who provided an overview of the unprecedented project that will unfold at London’s open-air Globe Theatre (April 21-June 7), with Shakespeare’s entire 37-play canon being presented in as many different languages by companies from around the world. Among the languages represented will be Maori, Greek, Swahili, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, Serbian, Albanian and Dari (by a company from Afghanistan). There also will be productions from the newly established South Sudan, as well as Armenia, Belarus, Italy, Spain, France, Georgia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and more.

The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is the only U.S. company participating in the festival. It is representing the language of hip-hop while the Globe itself will present “Henry V” in standard English, and London’s Deafinitely Theatre will stage “Love’s Labor’s Lost” in British Sign Language.

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