Ai Weiwei was right. Because Great Britain had self-confidence, it didn’t need a monumental Olympics.
One might extrapolate that because Britain has Shakespeare, it doesn’t need much more than imagination to imprint its image on the attention-deficit 21st century. That, and a willingness to travel.
Preferably with a play.
The Globe Theatre, it seems, is about to do just that. Working to Shakespeare’s oft-quoted line, “all the world’s a stage”, the Globe has said it will take a small production of ‘Hamlet’ to every country in the world in two years, starting April 2014, Shakespeare’s 450th birth anniversary. The tour will end around April 23, 2016, which marks 400 years since the Bard’s death.
That is a script of eye-popping ambition.
But if the proposed tour weren’t extraordinary enough, the Globe’s estimate that it will visit some 205 nations and territories puts it in very difficult territory. No one can really be sure how many countries there are – the United Nations has 193 member states but there were 204 teams at the 2012 Olympics in London. To confuse matters further, the Globe has come up with 205.
And it’s not just countries and venues that will be a tad uncertain in the around-the-world theatrefest. The Globe’s pace of travel will vary too, with artistic director Dominic Dromgoole admitting they would move briskly through Europe and dawdle in the Caribbean.
So, why ‘Hamlet’, when for some countries, not least Haiti, ‘The Tempest’ might have been a more apt choice? According to theatre director Peter Brook ‘Hamlet’ is “the most all-encompassing” and universal of Shakespeare’s plays and “the six simplest words in the English language are ‘to be or not to be’. There is hardly a corner of the planet where these words have not been translated.”
So it will come to pass.