South Sudan troupe give historic Shakespeare performance


The South Sudan Theatre Company is performing at the World Shakespeare Festival and the Cultural Olympiad 2012 in London's landmark Globe Theatre.

The World Shakespeare Festival will see 37 companies in the next six weeks from around the world come together to perform Shakespeare's works, each in a different language.

The young country’s newly formed South Sudan Theatre company is set to stage a historic adaptation of Shakespeare's Cymbeline in Juba Arabic.

The adaptation is the first ever and focuses on the country's history of magic, prophets and soothsayers, class and caste and even child abduction.

The festival’s director, Tom Bird, said South Sudan's participation would be a real world premiere for the troupe.

"This is the first time a Shakespeare play has ever been performed in Juba Arabic, so it is a real honor to have it here at the Globe, it is a proper world premiere," Tom Bird said.

The new troupe has faced some challenges as their journey progresses with the international audience, as well as getting costumes and beads.

"In the case of this company the challenges they have had to go through to get here are so many, and so we are really, really delighted they have sort of come through hell and high water to actually get here as part of this festival," Bird added.

Joseph Abuk Production director and a theatrical activist said taking part in the festival is an opportunity to celebrate South Sudan's independence.

"I say it is very important because we came here to meet 37 countries, China, and others. I think it is very important because when we return to the South, we will be like other people in other places. In places of the black, countries of the blacks. We met 37 countries and participated with them. They considered us their equals. This will be a great thing for South Sudan," Abuk said.

He also added that their performance was a great opportunity to showcase the country's cultural heritage through nuances in language.

The performance of Cymbeline is particularly symbolic as it deals with Britain's preparation to go to war with its master Rome over a dispute.

Similarly, distrust runs deep between Sudan and South Sudan, who are at loggerheads over their border, how much the landlocked south should pay to transport its oil through Sudan, and the division of national debt, among other issues.

The World Shakespeare Festival will run until November 2012.