Here in Stratford-upon-Avon an amazing feat is taking place. The World Shakespeare Festival is bringing the diversity of the world theatre to this tiny riverside town.
Now playing at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Romeo and Juliet in Bagdad tells William Shakespeare's classic tragedy as a conflict between the Shiite and Sunni people. Romeo and Juliet must battle not only their warring families, but also survive against the backdrop of a country in conflict. An Iraqi theatre company performs the play in Arabic with English subtitles.
The play departs from Shakespeare's story at several points, including the final scene where Romeo and Juliet do not take their own lives, but rather have their lives ripped from them by a terrorist's action. This adaptation is startling, scary, and raw.
While a bit heavy handed in its interpretation, Romeo and Juliet in Bagdad communicates R&J in ways that incite new meanings and will change how its audiences think about the play.
Want to read more? Check out Year of Shakespeare, a website dedicated to documenting the World Shakespeare Festival.
Two great articles are already up:
Year of Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad
Year of Shakespeare: Richard II