About The Book
Two years, 193,000 miles, 190 countries, one play. For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the Globe Theatre undertook an unparalleled journey, to take Hamlet to every country on the planet, to share this beloved play with the entire world. The tour was the brainchild of Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of the Globe, and in Hamlet Globe to Globe, Dromgoole takes readers along with him.
From performing in sweltering deserts, ice-cold cathedrals, and heaving marketplaces, and despite food poisoning in Mexico, the threat of ambush in Somaliland, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and political upheaval in Ukraine, the Globe’s players pushed on. Dromgoole shows us the world through the prism of Shakespeare–what the Danish prince means to the people of Sudan, the effect of Ophelia on the citizens of Costa Rica, and how a sixteenth-century play can touch the lives of Syrian refugees. And thanks to this incredible undertaking, Dromgoole uses the world to glean new insight into this masterpiece, exploring the play’s history, its meaning, and its pleasures. Hamlet Globe to Globe is a highly enjoyable book about an unprecedented theatrical adventure.
“[A] thoroughly enjoyable and charming story . . . Besides detailing the two-year tour itself, it’s a story of the play, its themes and language, famous past players, and how it has been performed and received over the years . . . Sly, witty, and delightful—a glorious Shakespearean romp.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With candor, humor, and erudition, English theater director Dromgoole tells [an] incredible story . . . Dromgoole is wise and witty; thoughtful, self-assured, even cocky . . . But he is never dull. His mission was to bring Hamlet to the world to show that Hamlet is the world, and he succeeded admirably. A wide readership, not just Shakespeare buffs and scholars, can enjoy this book.” —Publishers Weekly
“The tireless Dromgoole goes on a journey that would kill most of us, and connects our greatest poet to every corner of the human experience. Utterly extraordinary.” —Emma Thompson
“This is an amazing story about a bold and eye-popping journey. I loved it. Dominic Dromgoole writes about Shakespeare and touring the globe the way he ran the Globe—with passion, insight, relish and irresistible humour.” —Nicholas Hytner, former Artistic Director of London’s National Theatre
“Dominic Dromgoole’s recounting of the Globe Theatre’s exhausting global tour of Hamlet is exhilarating. The playing company’s intrepid journey around the world—performing Hamlet’s own troubled journey—succeeds in making the familiar unfamiliar and enables in turn a deeply illuminating journey into the play itself.” —Professor James Shapiro, author of 1599 and 1606
“This deeply humane, consistently enthralling account of a theatrical odyssey encompasses travelogue and literary criticism, theatre history and introspective narrative, political commentary and philosophical reflection with beguiling readability.” —Sir Stanley Wells, editor of The Oxford Shakespeare and author of Shakespeare & Co.
Translated into too many languages to count, and performed more times than Shakespeare ate hot dinners, and cold ones, or drew breath for that matter, Hamlet is one of those rare documents, which can truly be said to have brought the world closer together. In 1608, on board a ship called the Dragon, Hamlet was performed by its crew off the coast of Sierra Leone for a group of visiting dignitaries. The crew remembered enough of the play from what they had seen at the Globe to shamble together a show without a script. Several months later, they did the same in Indonesia. Within ten years of its first performance, groups of English actors, known collectively as the English Comedians, were performing it across Northern Europe in broad, hyper physical productions. Since then it has played everywhere, in theatres, fields, caves, hovels and palaces.
It has tested millions of the greatest actors and actresses, leaving some exhilarated with triumph and some desolate with failure, and all hungering for more. It has been recorded, televised and filmed over and over and over again.
It is recited in schoolrooms, quoted in boardrooms, mumbled by lovers, pondered on by sages, argued over by critics, passed on from parent to child, cursed by the student, wept over by the spectator, and stored in the heart as a fortifying secret by millions of us afraid of the bruising of the world. It is part of the fabric that surrounds us. It has become in large part us.