Shakespeare's Globe theater is about to take the Bard's words literally — "All the world's a stage."
The London theater announced Tuesday that it plans to tour a production of "Hamlet to every country in the world, some 205 nations and territories in all.
The small-scale production, performed by a cast of eight, will tour the world between April 2014 and April 23, 2016 — the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.
"By train, coach, plane and boat, we aim to take this wonderful, iconic, multifarious play to as many fresh ears as we possibly can," said artistic director Dominic Dromgoole.
"We know that there's an appetite for Shakespeare out there and there's a fascination with Shakespeare," Dromgoole told Reuters as he prepared to take "an international icon" to some of the most inaccessible places in the world.
The target of 205 nations and territories could vary a little, and exactly what constitutes a country is in some cases contested. The United Nations has 193 member states, while there were 204 teams in the London Olympics.
"We are aware that it is insanely ambitious," said Globe spokeswoman Emma Draper. But she said the company — and the British Council, a government-backed agency that will support the tour — believed it was possible.
Venues have yet to be determined, but will include Helsingor in Denmark — also known as Elsinore, where Hamlet is set — and Kenya's Rift Valley. The tour will start and end at Shakespeare's Globe, a replica Elizabethan playhouse on the south bank of the River Thames in London.
The tour is the flipside of last year's Globe to Globe festival, which brought troupes from around the world to London to perform Shakespeare's plays in 37 languages.
Theater director Peter Brook said Hamlet is "the most all-encompassing" and universal of Shakespeare's plays.
"The six simplest words in the English language are 'to be or not to be,'" he said. "There is hardly a corner of the planet where these words have not been translated."
It is not the first time the Globe has brought Shakespeare to an international audience. During a six-week festival last year, it showed 37 Shakespearean works in 37 different languages to 110,000 people.
This time the play will only be performed in English but with captions.
"The spirit of touring, and of communicating stories to fresh ears, was always central to Shakespeare's work. We couldn't be happier to be extending that mission even further," Dromgoole said in a statement.
Shakespeare's well known tragedy "Hamlet" was first performed around 1600 and is a vivid portrayal of madness and the darkest elements of the human psyche.
Shakespeare's Globe theatre was originally built in London in 1599 but burnt down in 1613. The theatre was rebuilt near to the original site on the banks of the River Thames and reopened in 1997.