Iraqi Kurdistan's first English-speaking Shakespeare troupe

April 26, 2012

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(Photo by Kaitlin Taylor)
The troupe has raised more than 30,000 to travel to the United States and participate in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Across the Middle East, William Shakespeare is just as much of a literary staple as he is in the United States. That is, if you switch out classical English for classical Arabic, swap Hamlet for an Arabian prince, and assign opposing Sunni and Shia’ identities to the star-crossed lovers. But in Iraqi Kurdistan, a student Shakespeare troupe at the American University of Sulaimani is becoming internationally recognized for performing the Bard's plays in their original tongue. Worldview talks with troupe director Peter Friedrich and actor Ahmad Muhammad Taha about the role of theater in Iraq and the challenges of emulating the Shakespearean language, culture, and time period.