LONDON – In fewer than 100 days time, athletes and spectators from around the world will be pouring into London to fill the great steel and concrete “O” of the Olympic Stadium. But there’s another major venue that is already welcoming international audiences and stars — the “wooden O” of Shakespeare’s Globe. The theatre — which sits, as its historical namesake did, on the south bank of the River Thames — is playing host to the “Globe to Globe” festival, a bold and breakneck staging of all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, in 37 different languages from Armenian to Yoruba, in the space of just six weeks.
The man who landed the enviable job of programming the festival is Tom Bird, a youthful and energetic playwright and physical theater practitioner. There’s occasionally a wild look in his eye as he describes the 18-month-long process of trying to assemble a lineup of productions that are creative, inspirational — and affordable. He went to Japan initially, he says, with his eye on the acclaimed New National Theatre production of “Henry VI.”