In celebration of the man who wrote such classics as Romeo and Juliet the Globe to Globe season will see all 37 of Shakespeare’s play’s adapted into different languages from across the globe ranging from Arabic, Italian, Swahili and even sign language from various production companies from the respected countries.
We were lucky enough to view the first show during the opening weekend from South African production crew Isango Ensemble’s adaptation of Venus and Adonis ‘U-Venas no Adonisi’
Isango Ensemble a internationally renowned theatre company have played to sold out audiences across the world, enchanting even the likes of the West End with their re-imagining of The Mysteries (Yiimimangaliso) and The Magic Flute (Impempe Yomlingo) and now The Globe Theatre.
Once seated in the packed theatre we were greeted by possibly the sweetest and most vocal ensemble ever heard the atmosphere created by the sound of the cast’s vocals alone was enough indication that we were in for a treat. Not only was the song so infectious it almost provokes one to get up and start dancing with the cast they also oozed a certain energy and stage presence that instantly made the audience feel they were being interacted with and brought into the world of Venus. It has to be said that the dialogue through the play is spoken in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SeSotho, Setswanna, Afrikaans, South African English and languages spoken in South Africa.
The story revolves around Venus, being the goddess of love who is pricked by an arrow from her son cupid and instantly falls in love when she see’s a mortal named Adonis besotted with his handsomeness and her uncontrollable desire she begins attempts to try and seduce him. This initially may not be clear to the viewer and requires close attention from the onset for one to follow on with the story. Even then not being aware of the synopsis it may be difficult to follow on with the play. This is where the language barrier comes into play and although you many would be discouraged at watching a playwright in a different language one thing is for sure, the Isango Ensemble even with their native tongue still manage to get emotion and comedy across to the crowd with the simplest of ease.
This adds to the whole theatre experience and watching something in a different language really helped the viewers to concentrate more intensely even when the rain began to pour through the open roof of The Globe, the audience were adamant on remaining in their positions just as a testimony to how captivating the Isango Ensemble were.