South Sudanese culture takes the world stage for the first time in London
02 May 2012
The South Sudan Theatre Company’s landmark production of ‘Cymbeline’ at the Globe to Globe Festival is a triumph for the power of the Arts in forging a national identity, the British Council’s director in South Sudan, Tony Calderbank, said at a reception to mark the performances on May 2nd and 3rd.
On July 9th 2011 the Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest country. The South Sudan Theatre Company (SSTC) was immediately established by a group of dramatists and cultural leaders. Once the Globe had extended an invitation to SSTC to perform as part of its remarkable Globe to Globe festival, the company were faced with a monumental challenge, translating Shakespeare into Juba Arabic for the first time, and then mounting a production of Cymbeline.
Following discussions between the British Council’s Juba office and the co-directors of the production, Joseph Abuk and Derik Alfred, the British Council committed to support the SSTC and the development of their production. "Culture must play a key role in forging a national identity, and I am absolutely delighted that the Company has come to the Globe for their first international performance." Tony Calderbank said. "This is an excellent occasion for the South Sudanese to celebrate their cultural identity and present their new nation on a global stage, and the British Council is very proud to support it".
The British Council believes in supporting artists worldwide to develop relationships with UK practitioners, and to form complex and nuanced relationships with British culture. Two UK theatre directors, Gregory Thompson and Raz Shaw. were invited to go to South Sudan and work alongside co-directors Derik and Joseph to explore how Shakespeare’s play might resonate with South Sudanese culture and history. Derik and Joseph also travelled to London, to see the theatre in which their company would be performing, and to build on the developing relationships with UK theatre companies and artists.
Graham Sheffield, the British Council’s Director Arts, said: "Our arts work across the region lives and breathes to inspire and to transform lives – to offer creative artists, participants and audiences across the world a life-changing and enhancing experience. Our catalyst is the UK’s profound cultural strength and diversity."
"Performing Cymbeline in Juba Arabic at the Globe Theatre is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all involved. It is also a classic cultural relations project." Mr Sheffield added. "SSTC aims to present South Sudan on the world stage - actors and actresses from different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, some having lived in the South, some having spent a long time in the North as refugees, working together to forge a sense of national identity and nationhood. It is absolutely right that an international cultural relations organisation of the British Council’s standing should support such a venture from this newly independent state, contributing to a major world cultural showcase through such a bold and brave initiative."
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About Shakespeare’s Globe
Founded by the pioneering American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare’s Globe is a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote, through the connected means of performance and education. Together, the Globe Theatre, Globe Exhibition and Tour and Globe Education seek to further the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance.
The Shakespeare Globe Trust is a registered charity No.266916. Shakespeare’s Globe receives no ongoing public subsidy.
The World Shakespeare Festival is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare’s Globe. It runs from 23 April to November 2012 and forms part of London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.
The World Shakespeare Festival and Globe to Globe is funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor.
About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival
The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.
The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, bringing leading artists from all over the world together from 21 June 2012 in this UK-wide festival – a chance for everyone to celebrate London 2012 through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation.
Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.
The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.
Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes.
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