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Tibetan Translation of Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" Performed in Beijing

Nyima Dundrup, a “first-rate” national playwright of Tibetan opera in China, and his wife, Kalzang Drolkar, translated Shakespeare’s Hamlet into Tibetan, and the play has been touring the country for the past two years; it was performed in Beijing 2023, reported Xinhua on January 27.

He has written several plays for various New Year galas in southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region as the Tibetan New Year and Spring Festival approach. He said that his creative writing was inspired by the many stories told by elders, in an oral tradition that is the most ancient form of Tibetan opera.

He explained that he and his wife would spend more than 15 hours daily translating a script for the play that was prepared by the Shanghai Theater Academy in late 2020.

“’Sometimes tears streamed down our faces due to the long working hours. We would go to the yard and use cold water to soothe our eyes,’ recalled Nyima Dondrup. ‘But we took pleasure in the translation process.’”

“Nyima Dondrup has watched many Shakespearean plays performed in Mandarin, including those by Pu. He said Shakespeare’s works are replete with rhetorical devices such as metaphors, similar to old Tibetan literature.”

The couple have plans to translate the complete works of William Shakespeare after they retire, which they expected would take 17 to 18 years.

“’There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes. In my eyes, ‘Hamlet’ belongs to all of humanity. Therefore, it is worthy of being translated into Tibetan,’ he said.”

This video clip features Tibetan art students discussing performing Shakespeare in Tibetan.