Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Reverses Course, Will Stage Hamlet in Israel

Shakespeare’s Globe, the theater company founded on the spot where William Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, announced Tuesday that it would be performing Hamlet at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv on March 30. The performance will be part of the theater’s ambitious two-year-long project to stage a production of Hamlet in every country in the world, in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The announcement came just after Liam Hoare and Tal Kra-Oz reported for The Tower that an announced performance in Tel Aviv had “vanished into the online ether.”

Troublingly, the travelling company has been in Israel’s neighborhood three times during the course of their tour without dropping in. In January of this year, Hamlet was staged in Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. In November 2015, they performed it in Turkey, while in October they visited Jordan twice—including one performance at the Za’atari refugee camp—as well as the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and the Palestinian Territories. There are even plans to go to Iran before the end of April.

It is scarcely believable that, having arranged a visit to Ramallah to perform at the state-of-the-art Ramallah Cultural Palace—something that most probably would have had to have been cleared by Israeli authorities—they could not have travelled a few kilometers to stage Hamlet at Jerusalem’s Khan Theatre or any venue in Tel Aviv.

The Globe has had a troubled history with Israel. In 2012, a performance of The Merchant of Venice, staged by Israel’s Habima Theater, was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters after numerous British theater luminaries, including the Globe’s first artistic director since its reestablishment, denounced Habima for their “shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

[Photo: Gilad Adin / YouTube ]