Sunday, February 14, 2016

Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Calais’ “The Jungle”: All The World’s A Stage?

With the recent performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Calais’ The Jungle refugee camp proves that all the world’s a stage?

By: Ringo Bones 

“All the world’s a stage”, indeed, when Shakespeare’s Globe Theater took Hamlet into the notorious “Jungle migrant camp” in Calais. About 300 refugees watched Hamlet – “a play that speaks to the human spirit in its darkest moments” – in biting cold. Under a steely gray sky, in bitter cold weather, actors from Shakespeare’s Globe Theater performed Hamlet back in Wednesday, February 3, 2016 to about 300 refugees in Calais at the ad hoc refugee camp notoriously known as “The Jungle”. Majority of the refugees have not even heard of William Shakespeare and his plays their whole life and there are even a large number who don’t even speak the English language. 

It was a wild thing to do but also entirely appropriate, Joe Murphy, a playwright and co-founder of the Good Chance Project, said it was the ideal play. “Hamlet is the story of a young man who is depressed and frustrated, between life and death, who does not know what to do, who is struggling to make decisions,” he said. “That story is going to translate to thousands of people here who are exactly in the same position.” One of the aims of the Good Chance Project is to provide some light amid the bleakness. Approximately 6,000 refugees from 22 countries live in the camp, the vast majority hoping to get to the UK. Volunteers say most are pessimistic that it will ever happen.  

Murphy said Wednesday’s performance was “a remarkable, beautiful thing.” The audience, who were offered popcorn, chai and synopses of the play in English, Pashto, Farsi, Arabic, French and Kurdish, did not get every nuance, but Murphy said: “Who does?” Well, at least the great English bard will gain a few thousand more fans.