THE world-famous Globe Theatre Company from London, England is set to perform William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) as part of a global tour to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the bard’s birth.
The event, to be held at NUL’s Netherlands Hall on 1 April, is part of the “Globe to Globe” Hamlet tour which was opened at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London on 23 April 2014.
Shakespeare’s Globe is one of the most prestigious arts organisations in the UK. It was founded by the pioneering American actor and director, Sam Wanamaker in 1970 who was disappointed not to find a memorial to one of the world’s greatest playwrights on the site of the original Globe. It was then opened to the public in 1997.
According to NUL Director of Communications and Marketing, Phumla Moleko, the Lesotho leg of the tour also coincides with the university’s 70th anniversary celebrations.
“The Globe Theatre plans to perform Hamlet in every country around the world within a period of two years in celebration of 450 years since Shakespeare’s birth,” Moleko said.
“The Hamlet tour is an unprecedented theatrical adventure, during which as extraordinary cast and crew 16 of men and women are travelling across the seven continents of the world performing in different venues.”
The play has been performed in almost 80 countries across the Americas, Europe and Africa to more than 70 000 people, with the company having covered a third of the tour. January 2015 saw the Globe Theatre Company travel to Africa, with the first port of call being Algeria‘s National Theatre, Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, the beautiful St Louis Cathedral in Carthage, Tunisia, and Ethiopia‘s National Theatre in Addis Ababa.
A free outdoor performance in Sudan drew an audience of over 3 000 people. On 29 January 2015, the Globe Theatre became the first foreign theatre company to perform a full play in Somaliland for 23 years. February has seen Globe Theatre Company continue its journey around East Africa, with performances outdoors in the gardens of the University of Rwanda, and in Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.
The tour will end on 23 April 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The company by then will have travelled to all 205 nations in the world.
Moleko added that it was an honour for NUL to play host to the celebrated arts organisation.
“NUL is a hub of education in Lesotho that offers programmes in both drama and theatre so it was befitting for the university to host such an auspicious event,” she said.
“Apart from that, I believe it will also be an advantage for our students as they will have a clearer perspective of Shakespeare’s work by watching the play. It is much easier to understand by seeing than by reading it so it will be a bonus for theatre students.”
Globe Theatre Company Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said the central premise of the tour was to bring Shakespeare to the people as they have an ability to entertain and speak to everyone regardless of their location.
Published between 1601 and 1603, Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works with a thrilling suspense plot. It is a play that undertakes a profound exploration of dilemmas intoxicated with elements of comedy. It is about a young prince, Hamlet, who goes home to Denmark to attend his father’s funeral. Hamlet is shocked to find his mother already remarried to his Uncle Claudius, the dead king’s brother. And Hamlet is even more surprised when his father’s ghost appears and declares that he was murdered.