When it comes to global Shakespeare, the rhetoric of universality remains stubbornly universal, especially among theatre practitioners. Even as “foreign” practitioners appropriate Shakespeare in intercultural productions that go far beyond merely reproducing the Shakespearean original, many continue to view Shakespeare as the vehicle that enables access to the universal. The history of Hamlet in Korea is representative in this regard. Since the so-called Shakespeare boom began in the 1990s in Korea, Koreans have performed Hamlet more often than any other Shakespeare play.1 Many reasons can account for this fact, but one clearly stands out: with its meditations on life and death, Hamlet exemplifies more than any other play for Koreans what Youn-taek Lee, the founding artistic director of the company Yonhuidan Gureepae, calls a “universal text.”2 The way in which Lee talks about his aspirations for the series of Hamlet productions that he directed is further telling. On the one hand, mutuality underpins his vision of universality in intercultural encounters, as seen in his desire to “universalize the culture of East and West in a comprehensive . . . way” (195); thus he emphasizes the need to preserve “Yonhuidan Gureepae’s unique theatrical grammar” (195) and its “own contemporary Korean theatre style” (202) in its productions of Western drama. On the other hand, however, he clearly positions Shakespeare as the source of the universal when he talks of “learning how to incorporate the contemporaneity and Korean uniqueness that we have pursued . . . into the dimension of the universal” (195) through Shakespeare; he further adds that interpreting Hamlet in Yonhuidan’s theatrical grammar “was possible thanks to the archetypal theatre form in Shakespeare plays that transcends the barrier of East and West and allows cultures to be interchangeable.”3 One can see why Yeeyon Im would say of Lee’s Hamlet that “Shakespeare presides in the cultural encounter between Korea and the West not as a participant, but as a governing agent [who] guarantees the

delivery of universality.”4 After all, as Sonia Massai has pointed out, even radical reworkings of Shakespeare can reinforce “the omnipresent image of the dominant other as its ultimate point of origin.”5