• Elizabeth E. Tavares deposited Romeo & Juliet / Layla & Majnun on MLA Commons 3 days ago

    There is a vibrant tradition of performing William Shakespeare’s playtexts cross-, multi-, and trans-culturally. Such productions help those in positions of privilege to reflect on the paradox of globalization: that to learn about other countries and cultures seems to always require ad- ditional labor of the culture that would not be colonized. To learn more about the other so often comes with the request that “they” somehow translate their vantage point to “us.” In his Nobel Prize lecture, Gabriel García-Márquez named this burden the “crux of Solitude”: “poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable” (García-Márquez). Bag & Baggage’s world premiere of Romeo & Juliet / Layla & Majnun, a play interested in Shakespeare’s text as a shared vocabulary, and in putting that in conversation with other shared cultural vocabularies, was an arresting example of how we can engage other cultures without asking for added sacrifice.