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The Globe Theatre Festival...

April 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM IST
MTG editorial

Two Indian productions have been invited to be part of an international theatre festival, in which all 37 of Shakespeare's plays will be performed in 37 languages at the Globe Theatre in London.

MANSI PAREKH REHEARSES FOR ARPANAS PRODUCTION OF ALL
MANSI PAREKH REHEARSES FOR ARPANA'S PRODUCTION OF
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

2012 is Olympic year in London, with the promotional machinery for the Games already in overdrive, swamping everything in sight. The proprietors at the Globe in London have come up with a novel scheme to keep the theatre circuit alive while still being part of the city-wide Olympic festivities. A veritable Olympics of works by Shakespeare will be performed by theatre companies from across the world. The companies were invited to present their own interpretation of the bard's classic works at the Globe Theatre, a modern citadel of high art that has been constructed in the likeness of the original amphitheater where the plays were originally performed a few centuries ago to much whistles and cat-calls and stomping about. As part of this unique Globe to Globe theatre festival, all 37 of Shakespeare's plays will be performed in 37 different languages. Two theatre companies from India are also in the fray with their adaptations of TWELFTH NIGHT and ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.

Atul Kumar is no stranger to Shakespeare, having collaborated with Rajat Kapoor in their contemporary masterpiece, HAMLET THE CLOWN PRINCE and they've followed that association with this year's NOTHING LIKE LEAR. The bard provides them with a kind of fodder that they can play around with and create works of astonishing originality. So, in many ways The Company Theatre, Atul Kumar's theatre group, was a shoo-in for the Globe festival. However, his adaptation of TWELFTH NIGHT, titled BARVI RAAT in Hindi, takes him away from his comfort zone. There will be no clowning this time. Instead his version is a true-blue Hindustani musical, translated into Hindi by actor Amitosh Nagpal. Nagpal and Geetanjali Kulkarni play the star-crossed twins Viola and Sebastian.

The musical is the first play which has been rehearsed at the Company Theatre's new facility in Kamshet. "This is the first musical that I have ever done. It is very interesting how actors can speak their lines and suddenly burst into song and dance. It's a new world," says Kumar of the new territory he's negotiating. "I may not know the technicalities of music but I have a ear for it. So I've depended a lot on my singers and composers." What Kumar has benefited from is the singing talent that has come to the fore over the past year in the theatre circuit. Several cast members have performed in the long-running musical STORIES IN A SONG, from director Sunil Shanbag, where their musical skills have been honed by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan, doyens from the world of Hindustani classical music.

The other Indian production at the Globe is another musical--a Gujarati adaptation of ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL from Shanbag's theatre group Arpana, in which the Bangwadi style of theatre has been employed to tell a story set in Saurashtra, Mumbai and Rangoon in the early 1900s. Composer Uday Mazumdar has composed the music and Mihir Bhuta has adapted the play into Gujarati. "All of us have read a lot of Shakespeare, and we've done Shakespeare in other languages. An average Indian student who's studied in English has encountered a Shakespearean text at some point in their education. That's quite an interesting phenomenon, considering that when I went to England I found that younger people knew less and less about Shakespeare. It's quite an irony which I find quite amusing actually", said Shanbag, in a recent interview with the BBC. The new production will open later this month in Mumbai, titled MARO PIYU GAYO RANGOON in its Indian avatar, before making the trip to England to perform at the festival for which it has been commissioned.

There are also other South Asian languages that are represented at the festival. A Bangla version of THE TEMPEST from Bangladesh, and an Urdu adaptation of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW from Pakistan, are attracting some buzz in the international press. South Indian languages are conspicuous with their absence, which is surprising since Tamil & Telugu are amongst the world's most widely spoken languages. In any case, the 37-strong roster of plays in London promises to be a treat for the senses.

The festival gets underway on 21st April with The Winter's Tale from South Africa. Twelfth Night will be performed on 27th and 28th April. All's Well That Ends Well will be performed on 23rd and 24th May. Tickets are available to purchase at the official Globe website: http://globetoglobe.shakespearesglobe.com/





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