Why Germans are having a Shakespeare fest in London

By Rob Brown
BBC News


Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre in London is nothing new - but Shakespeare in German? And a whole season of it?

Over the coming months, the theatre will echo with the sounds of the Bard's sonnets and plays performed in the language of Goethe and Schiller.

The "Shakespeare is German" season is aimed at exploring a German special affinity with Shakespeare.

There will be readings, discussions and performances at the reconstructed playhouse on the south bank of the River Thames, a site where Shakespeare himself once staged his plays.

'Our Shakespeare'

Shakespeare is not a recent arrival in Germany.

The first translation of his sonnets dates from the late 18th Century and eight separate German translations of Shakespeare's works were published in the following century.

According to Patrick Spotiswood, director of education at The Globe, Goethe championed Shakespeare as far back as 1771 and continued to write essays on Shakespeare, some of which have been specially translated for this new season.

Mr Spotiswood told the BBC that Germany's special relationship with the writer was not just historic.

"Theatres up and down Germany are constantly reinventing, re-exploring, reimagining Shakespeare," he said.

Young people will be playing a role in events at the Globe.

Over the coming months the theatre is expecting visits from over 18,000 German students and teachers.

One of Germany's most acclaimed actors, Sebastian Koch, will also be taking part.

image captionThe German Shakespeare Society was founded in 1864

"The Germans call him 'Our Shakespeare' because we love him," he told the BBC World Service.

Mr Koch, best known outside Germany for his role in the film The Lives of Others, also said he was very excited to be in the "hotspot of theatre and history and literature" that is the Globe Theatre.

But England should not be worried about losing Shakespeare to Germany any time soon.

As Mr Koch points out: "Shakespeare is global - of course he can be shared".

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