Two Indian adaptations at London's world Shakespeare fest
By Zafri Mudasser Nofil Two Mumbai-based theatre groups have been invited to stage Indian adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays at the six-week-long World Shakespeare Festival 2012 beginning next month.
From April 21, will host an unprecedented programme of multi-lingual productions as 37 international companies will present one of the Bard's plays in a different language over six weeks.
While Company Theatre will stage a Hindi version of "Twelfth Night" on April 27 and 28, Arpana will enact the bittersweet comedy "All's Well That Ends Well" in Gujarati on May 23 and 24.
"It's a commissioned piece, so we get to make a new play first of all. That is an opportunity in itself," says Atul Kumar, founder and artistic director of Company Theatre.
Kumar was approached by Globe last year for a Hindi adaptation of a Shakespearean play and he chose "Twelfth Night", the script for which is written by actor-director Rajat Kapoor.
"It (Twelfth Night) is a light comedy of Shakespeare. We just finished doing a heavy 'King Lear' so this was to be the refreshing change. Also this and a few other plays were the choices they threw at us, so I chose 'Twelfth Night'," Kumar told PTI.
"All's Well That Ends Well" was not the first choice of Arpana's Sunil Shanbag. "There was some back and forth about which play I should be doing. 'All's Well...' was not my first choice, but some of the plays I did want to work on were already being produced by other companies around the world.
"However, though 'Alls Well...' is often referred to as being one of Shakespeare's problem plays I found it had interesting layers and was easily adaptable to an Indian context," Shanbag says.
"I was invited by Tom Bird, the festival director to direct a play for the fest. They were keen on one of the languages represented being Gujarati because of the large Gujarati-speaking population in and around London. I agreed to work in Gujarati, and that's how we came to adapt 'All's Well That Ends Well' into Gujarati," Shanbag says.
According to him, "Sau Saru Jenu Chevat Saru" is a pretty dramatic adaptation of the original play. "The original play is set in provincial France, then moves to the court of the king of France, and then to Florence. We've set it in small town Saurashtra, which then moves to Mumbai in 1900, and then Rangoon. The nobility of the original has been replaced with the mercantile class in Mumbai in 1900," he says.
On the other hand, there isn't any change in the "Twelfth Night" version. "The story is the same as the original," says Kumar. Critically acclaimed writer Mihir Bhuta has done the adaptation of "All's Well That Ends Well" and Uday Mazumdar has composed the music.
According to the organisers, "Shakespeare is the language which brings us together better than any other and which reminds of our almost infinite difference, and of our strange and humbling commonality.
"And above all there are the plays themselves, plays which have travelled far and wide, and which on their travels have midwifed new theatre cultures, spread light and laughter, and helped nations, new and old, to define themselves."
Says Bird, "The Globe to Globe festival is a carnival of stories. There are inspirational stories - companies who work underground and in war zones; momentous stories - the first ever visit to these shores of some of the world's most prestigious national theatres; and returning stories - groups which have already wowed audiences at the Globe, in the Barbican and in the West End, coming back for more." PTI