Transnationalism and the World Shakespeare Festival

imagesPhoto by Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

This photograph was taken from a production of Troilus and Cressida by Ngakau Toa, a theatre company from New Zealand. It was performed on April 26th 2012, the opening night of the World Shakespeare Festival. The World Shakespeare Festival aimed show a range of Shakespeare productions from around the world. This adaptation of Troilus and Cressida was set during a tribal conflict and translated into Maori.

Shakespeare has often been seen as a writer whose work transcends national boundaries, and his plays have been performed in countless languages and settings. Arguably, performances of Shakespeare outside of England are a form of indigenization, as various cultures have adapted his work and made it relevant to them.

However, it could also be argued that the World Shakespeare Festival did not succeed in using Shakespeare to transcend national boundaries. Most of the performances by non-Anglophone countries made frequent use of elements that are traditionally associated with their cultural heritage. For instance, the Maori production of Troilus and Cressida began with the haka. While these are valid interpretations, it could be argued that the productions affirmed the idea of the nation by highlighting cultural differences.

Tanya Sheehan

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