This production of Shakespeare’s Richard III has reached BAM after a sold-out run at the Old Vic and a tour which included Epidavros, Istanbul, Naples, Sydney, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, and San Francisco, among others. This reminded me of the sort of thing the British Council does, but of course this Shakespearian globe-trotting was a private enterprise, funded largely by Bank of America and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. And course the whole point of the production’s parent organization, The Bridge Project, was to combine British and American casts. Perhaps there should be an organization beyond the British Council to cultivate, study, and promote the global English language, as it used on the streets and in literature around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Guyana, and others. And the way English is behaving in the physical and cyber-world today, it may need some international body to encourage it in good manners, kicking it under the table, when it starts to monopolize the conversation.
The Empire has gone Elizabethan. Built in 2003, the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre threatens to trump even the Baths of Caracalla (the city’s open-air opera house) as the cultural center point of Rome in the sweltering summer months. This season, the company cooked up an ambitious program including La tempesta (The Tempest), Pene d’amor perdute (Love’s Labour’s Lost), Sogno di una notte di mezza estate (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Dodicesima notte (Twelfth Night), and now closing with Riccardo III (Richard III). Don’t be scared by the foreign language. Even if you’ve read the play only once or twice, you’ll have no problem following the action (though rudimentary Italian will help). In fact, maximal accuracy was not the overriding concern for translator Enrico Groppali and director Marco Carniti. They rather aimed for superb drama and a strict fidelity to the plot. The result is an authentic, barely abridged Richard III (running over four hours) showing greater erudition and ingenuity than many productions in the original English.