All the world’s a stage – with Chicago connections

John Malkovich

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE, but Chicago’s global theater connections continue to grow. March 27 marks the 50th celebration of World Theatre Day, and John Malkovich (an early Steppenwolf ensemble member) delivers the international address at UNESCO in Paris on March 22, under the auspices of International Theatre Institute Worldwide.

This being the 50th anniversary of Theatre Communications Group, they will publish Malkovich’s remarks and links to other World Theatre Day activities on their website. Meantime, you can read up on last year’s events.

And check in with the League of Chicago Theatres for information about local celebrations.

MEANTIME, LAST WEDNESDAY, February 22, Chicago Shakespeare artistic director Barbara Gaines and executive director Criss Henderson welcomed leaders from the European Shakespeare Festivals Network. They including representatives from Spain, Germany, Romania, and Poland, along with Tom Bird, director of this year’s Globe to Globe Festival.

The luncheon and associated performances at Chicago Shakespeare and elsewhere during the week, including a Chicago Jazz Ensemble concert, were geared to introduce the global Shakespearean world to Chicago Shakes and Chicago’s cultural community. Guests included Michelle Boone, the commissioner of the city’s recently reconfigured Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Chicago Shakespeare’s Barbara GainesThe Globe to Globe Festival, presented as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, aims to bring every play in the Shakespearean canon to London, each performed by a company from a different nation in their native language.

Chicago Shakespeare’s contribution, representing the United States, will be Othello: The Remix, created by Chicago-bred hip-hop duo The Q Brothers, who have previously scored huge hits here and in England with The Bomb-itty of Errors and Funk It Up About Nothin’.

Bird noted that other participants include the Belarus Free Theater’s production of King Lear. The company members, who must operate underground because of the repressive atmosphere in their native country, were seen in Chicago last year in Being Harold Pinter at the Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, and Northwestern University after their performances at New York’s Under the Radar Festival.

And the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, will send a company performing Cymbeline in Juba Arabic to the Globe.

THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART is also one of the most prominent presenters of international performers in town, thanks to the curatorial acumen of performance programs director Peter Taub.

MCA’s next international guest, Poland’s Teatr ZAR performs The Gospels of Childhood Triptych March 29-April 1. This experimental physical theater piece about birth and death unfolds in three acts, each set in a different place in the MCA’s theater.

TRAP DOOR THEATRE, which specializes in contemporary European work, takes their critically well received 2010 production of French playwright Pierre Notte’s Me Too, I Am Catherine Deneuve (directed by Valery Warnotte) on a four-city French tour in April.

AND CLOSER TO HOME, the Hypocrites announce that their smash-hit production of The Pirates of Penzance (which has had two sold-out runs the past two seasons) will be performed at the Emerging America Festival in the Boston-Cambridge area.

The festival is coordinated by the American Repertory Theater, the Huntingon Theatre Company, and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.

Hypocrites founding artistic director, Sean Graney, has also scored nice notices for the New York remount of These Seven Sicknesses, based on all the extant scripts of Sophocles, which runs at the Flea Theater through March 4.

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