‘Macbeth’ in Bengali – Shakespeare goes colourfully desi in New Delhi

Published: January 18, 2013

MADHUSREE CHATTERJEE
IANS

A still from the Hindi adaptation of ‘Twelfth Night’ being staged at the Indian National School of Drama’s annual theatre fest. Submitted photo

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) Legendary 16th century playwright William Shakespeare’s works are being reinterpreted at the National School of Drama’s annual theatre fest here. The fortnight-long 15th edition of the Bharat Rangmahotsav will end Sunday.

The annual showcase of the country’s premier drama school turned its spotlight on “inter-cultural Shakespeare” this time, with a cache of six productions from across the world.

These are a Hindi version of “Twelfth Night”; an Indian-British interpretation of “The Tempest”; a Bengali “Macbeth”; a retelling of “Othello” in Malayalam; a non-verbal Indian-American Shakespeare collage, “The Knocking Within”; and “Julius Ceaser” in Assamese by Guwahati’s Seagull Theatre group.

Theatre critics said the festival reflected the globalization of a trend that began nearly 300 years ago in India when the British rulers brought Shakespeare’s plays to these shores to entertain the “white crew” of the erstwhile East India Company.

Today, Shakespeare has become part of the Indian heritage, a favourite across class and language divides. His works now spawn cross-cultural innovations.

The flavour of Shakespeare on the Indian stage is now one of innovative conceptualism, where the bard’s stories are expressed as ideas.

“Yamadoothu – After the death of Othello” – a bilingual adaptation of Othello in Malayalam and Hindi by B. Abhimanyu dramatizes the 30 minutes between the death of the body and the death of mind in the case of Othello, his wife Desdemona and the chief antagonist, Iago. The play runs for 73 minutes.

The production “Indianized” the performance without digressing from its original elements. Kalaripayatu – the native martial dance of Kerala – was used to good effect.

“Before making the performance text, we had a clear cut idea about death – and the difference between body death and mind death. It is a scientific thing, the time period when you can see people but you can’t respond. It gives us a certain language to perform. All things appear dreamy,” Thrissur-based Abhimanyu told IANS.

The young director has used spiritual symbols like flowers, milk, blood and corn stalk to sow the seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind in a simulation of Indian “tantrik” rituals that are enacted in a stylized theatrical language.

“I trained my actors in Kalaripayatu for 15 days,” the director said.

Explaining one possible reason why Shakespeare may be easily adapted across the world, Paddy Haytor, founder of French repertory company Footsbarn Theatre, said: “It is believed that most of Shakespeare’s plays were collated into a compendium of texts after his death as a result of which the texts were improvised many times.”

Haytor has adapted Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in English, Malayalam, French and Sanskrit in the outdoor style using traditional, operatic, western folk and contemporary theatre elements with a cross-cultural cast of five Malayalee performers.

Last year, London’s Globe Theatre had commissioned Mumbai-based The Company Theatre to produce “Piya Bahuroopiya”, an Indian adaptation of “Twelfth Night” for the “Globe to Globe Shakespeare” festival to coincide with the London Olympics.

“It renders itself to any language. But we were meant to stay with the rules of Shakespeare when we staged the play. But it has changed after we moved out of the Globe Theatre. We have restructured on the floor, allowing it to grow organically,” director Atul Kumar told IANS.

The adapted “Twelfth Night” does not have a specific script.

“We read the original Shakespeare and threw it out of the window. We all knew what the essentials of the play were – and then we started exploring the play in our way,” Kumar said.

The provincial roots of the cast – drawn from Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – brought in traditional flavours and styles, with a folk musical score.

Kumar has played King Lear in “Nothing Like Lear”, an adaptation in gibberish and Hamlet in “The Clown Prince” in English and gibberish, directed by Rajat Kapoor.

The journey of Shakesprare on the Indian stage has been one of improvisation by adopting the playwright as an Indian icon, says former Delhi University professor Vikram Chopra, the author of a treatise, “Shakespeare: The Indian Icon”.

Chopra, the founder secretary of the Shakespeare Society of India in the capital, says playwright Bhartendu Harish Chandra translated “Merchant of Venice” on an Indian canvas in Maharashtra in the early 19th century.

“In Bengal, Girish Ghose translated “Macbeth” to Bengali. It starred Tinkari, an actress from the red light area of Kolkata as Lady Macbeth and was first staged at the Minerva Theatre in 1893,” Chopra recalled.

The National School of Drama has re-invented Shakespeare in the Indian context. Two of the most memorable productions were a 1965 rendition of “King Lear” starring Om Shiv Puri and a 1989 production directed by Amal Allana in a Rajasthani milieu.

Numerous adapations have appeared on stage in the last 100 years.

Chopra, however, credits the popularity of Shakespeare to Geoffrey Kendal’s “Shakespearewallah”, a travelling theatre company that staged Shakespeare’s plays across the country.

James Shapiro, a well-known Shakespeare scholar from the US says: “Shakespeare is the only playwright in the English-speaking world whom no one has to pay for staging plays. Shakespeare is for everybody…”


Tags: , , , ,





Featured

babe SEXY BOLLYWOOD desi

B.C.’s Miss India Canada pageant contestant sues ex-boyfriend to pay for tuition for failed class after breakup

KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK KAMLOOPS — A 22-year-old B.C. woman is suing her ex-boyfriend to pay tuition for a class she says she failed due to distress…
Continue Reading »

Longtime Surrey politician and former mayor Bob Bose is pictured here near his south Surrey home on Monday, November 21, 2011. Jenelle Schneider/PNG

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose backs Barinder Rasode, says no Surrey Matters slate coming

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Though Coun. Barinder Rasode has yet to officially announce her intentions to run for the city’s top job, she’s…
Continue Reading »

A Pakistani-Canadian blogger has released Pakistan's first-ever anti-homophobia children's book. Submitted photo/Nicemangos.blogspot.ca.

Toronto-based blogger releases Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book

VANCOUVER DESI A Toronto-based Pakistani blogger has written and released Pakistan’s first-ever anti-homophobia children’s book. Blogger Eiynah, known for her site Nice Mangos where she…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

babe SEXY BOLLYWOOD desi

B.C.’s Miss India Canada pageant contestant sues ex-boyfriend to pay for tuition for failed class after breakup

KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK KAMLOOPS — A 22-year-old B.C. woman is suing her ex-boyfriend to pay tuition for a class she says she failed due to distress…
Continue Reading »

Longtime Surrey politician and former mayor Bob Bose is pictured here near his south Surrey home on Monday, November 21, 2011. Jenelle Schneider/PNG

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose backs Barinder Rasode, says no Surrey Matters slate coming

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Though Coun. Barinder Rasode has yet to officially announce her intentions to run for the city’s top job, she’s…
Continue Reading »

A Pakistani-Canadian blogger has released Pakistan's first-ever anti-homophobia children's book. Submitted photo/Nicemangos.blogspot.ca.

Toronto-based blogger releases Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book

VANCOUVER DESI A Toronto-based Pakistani blogger has written and released Pakistan’s first-ever anti-homophobia children’s book. Blogger Eiynah, known for her site Nice Mangos where she…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

jail sex

B.C. Supreme Court to decide if Kamloops Mountie watching women have sex in jail is a crime

THE CANADIAN PRESS KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A judge wants to hear arguments from lawyers about the legality of the charge against an RCMP corporal accused…
Continue Reading »

Rice Bucket India poverty

India’s Rice Bucket Challenge gives a ‘meaningful twist’ to ALS ice bucket challenge

VANCOUVER DESI India has created its own “desi” version of the ALS ice bucket challenge that has swept the globe. While the original icy cold…
Continue Reading »

India

Man proudly wears world’s largest turban weighing in at 100 pounds and 645 metres long unwrapped

VANCOUVER DESI A 60-year-old devout Sikh in northern India appears to be the proud owner of the world’s largest turban – weighing in at 100…
Continue Reading »

Elephant headed god

Gallery: India prepares to welcome elephant-headed Lord Ganesha

VANCOUVER DESI Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed god, have taken off in India as Hindus prepare to welcome…
Continue Reading »

Witches Burned Victim Alive In Front Of Family

Witches burn Indian dad alive in a bizarre ritual in front of his wife and 10-year-old son

CEN AGENCY Witches who burned a man alive after chopping off his arms in a bizarre ritual have been seized by police in central India….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament and Indian Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal arrives in Parliament in New Delhi on May 20, 2014. India's Narendra Modi is expected to formally declare his intention to form the next government May 20, days after his Hindu nationalist party won the first parliamentary majority in three decades. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

No one else can play the role: Paresh Rawal on Modi biopic

IANS Mumbai  – Versatile actor Paresh Rawal, who will soon start shooting for a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says he is the right…
Continue Reading »

hot photos desi actress bollywood sex

Gallery: Deepika Padukone photo shoot

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood beauty Deepika Padukone, who is creating a lot of buzz with her upcoming film Finding Fanny, poses for the camera. Related Stories:…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood desi boobs sex

Bollywood’s bold babe Sherlyn Chopra strips for Playboy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actress Sherlyn Chopra marks the first-ever Indian model to pose for Playboy magazine, according to eonline.com. While the 30-year-old announced she’d be…
Continue Reading »