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From Hector to haka

A new Maori version of a Shakespeare tragedy proves that quality content can transcend boundaries and language

New Zealand theatre company Ngakau Toa is currently wowing London audiences with its full Maori version of Shakespeare’s tragedy Troilus and Cressida. The are performing the play as part of the ‘Globe to Globe’ element of the World Shakespeare Festival that sees all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed in 37 languages, from Swahili to sign language.

Ngakau Toa’s Troilus and Cressida opens with the text being performed in the style of a haka. Which sounds incongruous and horribly gimmicky, until you consider that the play is about the Trojan war (and the heroics of Hector et al) and nothing quite encapsulates the pre-battle psych-up like the legendary Maori challenge.

Demonstrating that great content transcends language, geographical boundaries and even different mediums, this clip shows the effectiveness of the interpretation:


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