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India Goes To World Shakespeare Festival At London 2012

Part of the London 2012 cultural olympiad, the Globe festival will feature Atul Kumar’s Hindi adaptation of Twelfth Night and Sunil Shanbag’s Gujarati version of All’s Well That Ends Well.

4 Apr, 2012

Naman Saraiya

Contributing Writer

“If music be the food of love, play on” - Twelfth Night (Act 1, Scene 1)

Backed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the World Shakespeare Festival is a celebration of one of the greatest playwrights of all time in different languages and forms of theatre. In the 2012 edition of the Shakespeare Globe (which was founded by American actor Samuel Wanamaker) festival, the society will host a special tribute to the playwright in what they’re calling ‘Globe To Globe’, as a build up to London 2012, the cultural olympiad of the London Olympics. The special event will span over approximately two months from April 21 to June 9 and showcase 37 plays in as many languages. All of the productions are adaptations and interpretations from around the world of various Shakespearean plays.

India is being represented by Sunil Shanbag and Atul Kumar, both of whom are multiple winners of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards and are amongst the biggest names in the contemporary Indian theatre-scape. Shanbag’s theatre group Arpana will present a Gujarati interpretation of All’s Well That Ends Well in their signature style – mixing dance, acting and live music – on May 23 (2.30pm) and May 24 (7.30pm). Kumar, of The Company Theatre, will present a Hindi monologue based on Twelfth Night on April 27 (2.30pm) and April 28 (7.30pm).

Kumar’s presentation of Twelfth Night will not be his first interpretation of Billy S’s work. Over the last few years, The Company Theatre, founded by Kumar, has dabbled in Shakespeare productions directed by Rajat Kapoor, the most recent being a monologue based on King Lear titled Nothing Like Lear. However, the play did not open to as many favourable reviews as compared to the previous production of an English/gibberish adaptation of Hamlet, titled Hamlet – The Clown Prince, which did well in India and internationally (mostly).

Check out the teaser for Hamlet – The Clown Prince below.

We spoke to Shanbag about his presentation of All’s Well That Ends Well at the festival. He explains that there was a lot of “back and forth” about which play they were going to perform as “a lot of plays being presented at the festival were already existing and running productions from across the world.” However, he sounded pleased with picking this particular play considering it is (by his own admission) one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works and is also one of his “problem plays”. Furthermore, the play seemed to fit an Indian setting and the group “could adapt it very easily, and have based it in Bombay, Saurashtra and Rangoon – with all the mercantile class nobility.” Shanbag also mentions that the play will have a signature Arpana touch, with lesser dance than usual and a greater use of Indian music.

Alternatively, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production in association with Richard Jordan Productions will present Othello in hip-hop. Other plays will be presented in a variety of languages including Macedonian, British Sign Language, Bangla, Hebrew, Swahili, Mandarin, and Greek. Ticket prices start as low of as £3 and go up to £120. Check out the entire schedule here.

Have a look at the promo for the festival below.

More details on the official website.

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