a play by William ShakespeareThe South Sudan Theatre Company's first production is a historic South Sudanese adaptation of Shakespeare's Cymbeline, translated into Juba Arabic by Joseph Abuk. The company has been invited to perform in London's Globe Theatre in May 2012 as part of the Globe to Globe Festival.
Cymbeline's themes echo South Sudan's current and unfolding history – a war of liberation, people displaced from home and self, betrayal, love and a political settlement on the eve of battle.
The play opens as Cymbeline, an early king of Britain, refuses to pay tribute to the Roman Emperor, and his daughter Innogen leaves court dressed as a boy to meet the courtier she has married in secret. Little does she know that her lover believes her to be unfaithful, and has charged the servant who accompanies her to kill her in the wilds of Britain. Meanwhile, the king's stepson sets off in pursuit, determined to capture her and return her to a forced marriage with him. As war looms, who can be trusted, where does innocence lie?
The Juba Arabic version of Cymbeline is a fairly pure translation, allowing the audience to draw the parallels between past and present, Britain and South Sudan. Much care has been put into finding the right colloquial terms, indigenous to precisely the kind of Arabic spoken around Juba. Costume that distinguishes between north and south Sudanese gestures at the history of empire and the struggle for nationhood on equal terms.
We have brought in and bought a lot of costumes from different tribes that we have to celebrate the cultural diversity of southern Sudan. People in London are going to see something very different.
For a dramatist it is not only just by words that he can convince the audience, but it is in the way of how he or she expresses their own, how she or he expresses himself on the stage.