One of the finest Shakespearean productions I recall was the Rustaveli Company’s Richard III at the Edinburgh Festival. It was played in Georgian and I didn’t understand a word. Memories of a visit to Tbilisi and to a village in the mountains beyond the city where, at the dinner after a poetry festival, one of my companions was admiringly presented with a portrait of Stalin – local boy made good – kindled my appreciation. Georgian history offered parallels to England’s Wars of the Roses. Richard III made excellent sense in Tbilisi.
This was back in the Brezhnev years. About the same time, I read Shakespeare Our Contemporary by the Polish critic Jan Kott, a work that influenced Peter Brook, Peter Hall, John Barton and other British directors. Shakespeare appeared so contemporary to Kott because the worlds conjured by the playwright resembled