Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Touring Hamlet gets ovation at UN

The production of Hamlet will return to the Globe Theatre in April 2016

A production of William Shakespeare's Hamlet that hopes to visit every country in the world in two years landed at the United Nations, getting a standing ovation from diplomats.

The stripped-down Shakespeare's Globe Theatre production played inside a chamber in the UN's New York HQ for some 500 guests, against a backdrop of real world crises in Gaza and the Ukraine.

"It's an absolute delight to be here. It's extraordinary. It feels very, very odd. But very pleasurably odd," said Dominic Dromgoole, the Shakespeare's Globe artistic director.

"We like bold ideas. We like bold, simple - some would say stupid - ideas."

The tour's goal is to visit 205 nations and territories - the numbers are somewhat in flux as statehood demands rage - in seven continents.

It landed in New York having already been seen in 28 countries and having accumulated 19,295 miles since it began this spring at its London home, a reconstructed Elizabethan playhouse beside the River Thames.

The audience included actress Kim Cattrall and performance artist Laurie Anderson in the front row.

The troupe, which already has performed in places as diverse as opera halls, market places and beaches, hopes to visit all the world's countries, including Iraq, North Korea and Syria. They also hope to perform in the West Bank, though no firm plans have been announced.

"Inclusivity is a much better policy than exclusivity," said Mr Dromgoole. "If you do start excluding anyone, you do have to ask the question 'Where do you start and where do you stop?'"

The show already has played Moscow and Ukraine's capital of Kiev, where the show debuted on May 24, the night before the most recent elections, and president-elect Petro Poroshenko was in attendance.

The production, which is not sponsored or subsidised by any group, next moves on to Central America and the Caribbean, stopping in the Bahamas tomorrow and on to Mexico, Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica.

Later this summer it will head to Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The tour involves a portable set and a 12-person, multicultural cast that includes Hong Kong-born actress Jennifer Leong and Maori actor Rawiri Paratene. The production is directed by Mr Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst, who travel with four stage managers.

The title role is alternated between London actor Naeem Hayat, a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and Nigeria-born Ladi Emeruwa, who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

The journey began in London on April 23 - the Bard's 450th birthday - and has already made stops from Amsterdam to Prague, Cyprus to the Ukraine. It concludes at its home theatre on April 23, 2016 - the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

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