Shakespeare Festival celebrates African theatre and languages

This weekend Shakespeare’s Globe in London launches Globe to Globe festival, the most international Shakespeare Festival ever to take place.

The festival will feature all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different languages by 37 different theatre companies from around the world.

The productions include five from Africa: South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The unique and much-loved Isango Ensemble from Cape Town will kick off the festival with a carnival interpretation of the great narrative poem, “Venus and Adonis”.

Isango have already enchanted audiences in the West End with their reimagining of “The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso” and “The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo”. They bring the same modern African sensibility, brimming over with song and dance, to Shakespeare‘s great story of seduction and loss of innocence.

Following the Isango Ensemble, the theatre company Bitter Pill will feature their version of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” from Nairobi. This is an exuberant, urban and African take on Shakespeare’s comedy of failed courtship. Full of laughter and fun, this production, celebrating the wit and independence of rural African women, first played at the Harare International Festival of Arts in Zimbabwe, before travelling north to engage with the sun-soaked joys of the Swahili language.

The third African company to perform are the specially-formed South Sudan Theatre Company, from the world’s newest country, presenting “Cymbeline” in Juba Arabic. This is the first time a Shakespeare play has been performed in Juba Arabic.

Two Gents Productions, performing “The Two Gentlemen of Verona in Shona”, is a Zimbabwean theatre company based in London, and founded in February 2008. The company’s aim is to present Shakespeare in new and unfamiliar ways by fusing it with contemporary Zimbabwean performance modes of storytelling, improvisation, mime and dance.

The company members’ individual cultural backgrounds, their experience of migration and audience-centred, physically engaging yet technically minimalist style infuse all Two Gents’ productions. To date the company has presented in London and the UK: “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, “Kupenga Kwa Hamlet” and “Magetsi”. “Vakomana Vaviri ve Zimbabwe” at Shakespeare’s Globe is the first full length Shona language production.

The final African production within Globe to Globe is Renegade Theatre’s “The Winter’s Tale” performed in Yoruba; a magical new production of Shakespeare’s late masterpiece informed by Yoruba folk tales. The company’s patron is the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

Globe to Globe festival will run for six weeks at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It is part of the World Shakespeare Festival – a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright.

Tickets for Globe to Globe start at just £5, and a series of multibuy schemes are in place, including the Yard Olympian which will allow you to see all 37 productions for just £100.


Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT.

Isango Ensemble presents “Venus & Adonis”
From Cape Town, South Africa
Performed in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SeSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans, South African English
Saturday 21st April 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 22nd April 6.30pm

Bitter Pill and The Theatre Company Kenya presents “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
From Nairobi, Kenya
Performed in Swahili
Wednesday 25th April 2.30pm
Thursday 26th April 7.30pm

The South Sudan Theatre Company presents “Cymbeline”
From Juba, South Sudan
Performed in Juba Arabic
Wednesday 2nd May 2.30pm
Thursday 3rd May 7.30pm

Two Gents Productions presents “Two Gentlemen of Verona”
From Zimbabwe
Performed in Shona
Wednesday 9th May 2.30pm Thursday 10th May 7.30pm

Renegade Theatre presents “The Winter’s Tale”
From Lagos, Nigeria
Performed in Yoruba
Thursday 24th May 2.30pm
Friday 25th May 7.30pm

Booking Information
By phone:  020 7401 9919
Online (transaction fee applies):

Yard (standing) £5
Lower/Middle/Upper Galleries (seated) £10, £15, £25, £35
Seating plans vary for each performance; for details please ask Box Office staff or consult online seating plans at the time of booking.
Please note that there is no seat in the theatre from which the view is not obscured at some point.

Yard Olympian
See all 38 productions, with the best view in the house, for just £100 (saving up to £90).

Multibuys And Rewards Passport
Book for more than one show at the same time to qualify for a multibuy discount. With a Rewards Passport you can also collect stamps to claim further bonuses. For more information please ask at Box Office or see the website.

Under 18s £3 off all seats.
Disabled patrons Half-price seats for disabled patrons plus one companion if required.
Under 3s free.

For further information, please visit