It seemed fitting that now I am back in England I saw a Zulu version of Macbeth played at the new Globe theatre in London.
The Globe was the name of the theatre in which Shakespeare made his name, as resident playwright and director, on the south bank of the Thames. The original site is now partly covered by the Southwark bridge, so they have rebuilt it, as far as it can be determined, in the identical style. It has been the personal project of an American, Sam —-, and is now the centrepiece of a new arts development south of the City of London.
Umabatha is the name of a Zulu theatre group, who rewrote Macbeth to better reach their audiences in Zululand. The names are Zulu names, the witches are Sangomas, the battles are Zulu style, Shakespeares magic blazes through this powerful play. Lady Macbeth, with her intrigues, and an amazing final madness scene that included a haunting solo death song, was superb. Macbeth, clad in the leopard skin robes of a traditional Zulu king, and Banquo were also excellent. The powerful drums, and great festival dance numbers with Zulu girls singing and dancing, and Shaka Zulu’s incredibly energetic military training dances, added an indisputable local touch that allowed an african troupe to claim Shakespeare as their own.
We saw it opening night, and the place was teeming with Shakespearean actors from the television screen as well as the London public. We were in the best “seats”, standing in the yard right in front of the stage, at times six inches from a dying king.
I am spend a little more time with family here, including a trip to France to see my brother.
A reminder - the rest of my trip can be found at http://www.wizzy.com/post/ - and I will see you folks soon.