'Â…I must be found.
My parts, my title, and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly.' (Act I, scene I, line 30)
When Shakespeare wrote the poetry that Othello spoke, little did he know how applicable it would be four hundred years later when Muslims strive to be understood in the face of misleading images- though perfection, off stage, is seldom achievable! .
Nor could he have foreseen the 400th celebration of Othello as the springboard for a spring season programme on Shakespeare and Islam, which begins at the Globe this week on March 3rd with a series of Fellowship Lectures. Following this are plays, readings, projects involving schools and the Khayaal Theatre Company, In-service Teacher Training and visits to the 'Heaven on Earth: Art from Islamic Lands' exhibition at Somerset House, London.
The evening of February 24th marked the launch of Shakespeare and Islam which has been spear-headed by the Education Director, Patrick Spottiswoode. The spring and autumn seasons will explore the presentation of Islam, Turks and Moors in Elizabethan times, in particular through Shakespeare's plays.
The launch brought together those who have been working on this project from within Globe Education and those who have supported and had direct input in the creation of this stimulating series of educational opportunities. Those invited to this occasion at the Globe centre, included members and affiliates of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), various sections of the media, the theatre group Khayaal, international diplomats and Islamic scholars, namely Professor Abdel Haleem and Nabil Matar.
In what was a pleasant informal milieu, Patrick Spottiswoode addressed the audience thanking all those, including the MCB, for their advice and support. He continued: `Shakespeare opens doors and is a catalyst for communication', highlighting that `this is a season of welcome conversations.' Mr Spottiswoode also referred to the timely comparison of how seventeenth century England viewed Islam and Muslims with present day Britain.
Lord Howell of Guildford followed this opening, and clearly set out the aims and objectives of this season, remarking `Never was a time when it was more important to develop close ties between this country, this kingdom and Islam at every level.'
With its outstanding record in educating, and worldwide reputation, Globe Education has welcomed over 70,000 students, and it was Lord Howell's hope that `...the lectures would challenge all the preconceived ideas that the audience may face.'
The launch was completed by a synopsis of `the oldest cultural relations' - between Morocco and England - that have extended for some 400 years , by the 45th Moroccan Ambassador. His Excellency Mohammed Belmahi's speech highlighted the mutual exchange of diplomats over the centuries, and also very successfully took the audience on a tour of all aspects of Moroccan- English ties these including trade, arts, battles and, of course, theatre.
All events will be taking place at Shakespeare's Globe in London. The Globe
was completed in 1997 on Bankside in Southwark, about 200 yards from the original theatre house where Shakespeare's plays were performed until 1613. Reconstructed as closely as possible in style and building materials, the Globe today is an enthralling, open air theatre where one can relive and participate in the great bard's plays. Surrounding the reconstructed Globe is The International Shakespeare Globe Centre Ltd, which serves as an education and exhibition centre.
The season offers a wide variety of events, which are a tribute to those collectively working toward building bridges- affording opportunities to observe, listen and participate. This really shouldn't be missed!
For further information on listings and bookings contact:
Shakespeare's Globe Box Office
Open Monday - Saturday, 10.00am-6.00pm
(8.00pm during the theatre season)
020 7401 9919
020 7902 1475
Shakespeare's Globe Box Office
21 New Globe Walk
London SE1 9DT