Yesterday evening we excitedly filtered in to the Campus auditorium ready for a theatrical treat – The Globe theatre, England had come all the way to KAUST to perform Hamlet for us – and what a treat it was…
The globe are mid-way through their world tour, delivering Shakespeare to every single country in the world over a two year period as part of a celebration of good old Billy’s 400th anniversary. We were told last night that Saudi was the 158th country they have visited so far and I really think we are incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to watch such a magical moment in history (and all for free as well!). For more information on the project please check out the Globe’s blog.
The auditorium was absolutely packed – it’s rare that you see such a gathering of people in one place and even after just three months here there were loads of people to say hi to, catch up with and wave to as everyone settled down into their seats. KAUST had done a great job of organizing the event, everyone was handed a programme with a printed synopsis, some background information about the cast members and the story of how The Globe managed to get into the kingdom. As far as I’m aware theatre is not permitted in Saudi Arabia so it is testament to the people who run our university that we were able to have them here at all.
The play was beautifully executed – as I’m sure is true of many people I read Hamlet in school (12+ years ago, ouch) and haven’t since but as soon as the play begun it all came flooding back; ‘to be or not to be’, ‘alas poor Yorik’, ‘to thine own self be true’, ‘the lady doth protest too much’….it’s amazing how many of the most famous of Shakespeare’s quotes come from Hamlet. A quiet ripple of recognition moved through the audience after each one – it was simply lovely.
On a personal note, it was nice having a little slice of quintessential ‘Englishness’ brought to me to help stave off my never-ending homesickness. Thanks Hamlet and The Globe theatre for coming and putting on such a splendid show – you really made my heart smile.
As always – please follow me on Instagram to see pictures of KAUST and our adventures here @livinginarabia, and if you have any questions; holler in the comments section.