Shakespeare’s Tempest in Three Languages – and Funded by the EC!

Here’s an update on STORM, an EC funded project performing the Tempest in different languages and locations in Lincoln, Portugal and Poland:

From Albanian to Zulu the work of William Shakespeare has been translated into more than 80 languages during the past 400 years.

However, not often has the bard’s work been performed in three languages at once.  But now, thanks to a collaboration with professional theatre companies from Portugal and Poland and a grant from the European Union, the Lincoln School of Performing Arts has produced a multilingual retelling of The Tempest.

STORM will be coming to England from 21 to 25 September 2011, with performances taking place at Lincoln Cathedral’s cloisters, the grounds of Newark Castle, the sea front at Skegness, and the Medieval Bishop’s Palace in Lincoln. It has already toured Poland and Portugal where the location for each open-air performance was carefully selected to highlight the respective nation’s culture.

In STORM, an English-speaking cast perform side-by-side with Polish or Portuguese-speaking actors for each performance. The history and inherent qualities of each open-air space and landscape influence the actors’ staging of the story, creating a unique experience at each location.

Despite its complexities, Head of the Lincoln School of Performing Arts Dr Mark O’Thomas says the work is firmly rooted in the traditions of Shakespeare, and as such, is there to engage and entertain an audience.

“Some people will appreciate the subtlety of the project, and receive its messages about global fusion,” he said. “But others will still simply see it as popular theatre. The Tempest is a funny and engaging script.”

“I’ve seen children in the audience of STORM simply mesmerised by the sound of two different languages on stage at the same time. For some, it was a language and sound they had simply never heard before.”

The University of Lincoln’s involvement in the STORM project came about after Portuguese Theatre group – and creators of the script – Fatias de Ca expressed a desire to circulate their artistic work trans-nationally and put a call out to universities and theatre groups across the United Kingdom.

Fatias de Ca, who have performed The Tempest once before with French and Japanese actors, were keen to involve an English-speaking troupe in the performance considering the playwright’s origin.

Portuguese-speaking Dr O’Thomas replied to the call, along with fellow bilingual colleague and lecturer in Drama at the University of Lincoln, Anna Makrzanowska, whose knowledge of Polish theatre and bilingual skills allowed her to play a vital role in the performance of STORM.

“While the script itself had been simplified, the complexity of the performance came from working actors and troupes from such different cultures, ability and ages coming together with their different approaches,” said Anna.

“However, the benefit of this was that we could explore the interface between language, location and culture and highlight other forms of dramatic language like physicality, movement and place as well as fuelling excitement in the performance coming simply from the meeting and confrontation of ‘another’ or ‘the strange’ on stage.”

Drama students at the University of Lincoln have taken part in the performances, including Christopher Cope who says the project opened his eyes to the acting styles of other cultures.

“This experience has shown me what can be achieved when we combine different theatrical styles. It really has been an honour and thoroughly enjoyable. It has also helped me advance as a person as I finish university and enter the real world,” he said.

Event details and booking information:
21 Sept | 6.30pm | The Cloisters, Lincoln
Tickets £5, available through the Lincoln Cathedral gift shop

22 Sept | 5.30pm | Newark Castle
Free event, turn up at the entrance just off Castle Gate, Newark

24 Sept | 5.30pm | Sea Front, Skegness
Free event, turn up on the sea front near Skegness Pier

25 Sept | 6pm | Medieval Bishop’s Palace, Lincoln
Tickets £5, available through Engine Shed & LPAC box office

Performance running time: 1hr 15mins, no interval.