The opening night of the Itʼs Shakespeare! Fest. A Shakespearean Montage by eminent theatre artists of Bangalore directed by Evam Karthik saw popular Kannada theatre and television actors such as Jaidev Mohan, Sihikai Chandru, and Sandeep enact famous Shakespearean scenes.
This was followed by the first play of the festival – Atul Kumarʼs (The Company Theatre, Mumbai) spectacular Piya Behrupia, a Hindi, musical adaptation of Twelfth Night. The theatre was packed to the rafters, and the audience clapped and sang along with the cast for the entire hour and a half. Atul had utilized Indiaʼs Nautanki-style, and had brilliantly adapted Shakespeareʼs famous play to an Indian setting.
Kannada actors and directors took to the stage as a precursor to the Kannada Rajyotsava. The Ramachandra Deva-translated Hamlet, was a 40-min piece directed by Srinivasa Prabhu and had him and a few others actors on stage.This was followed by the poignant and heart-wrenching solo enacted by the inimitable Laxmi Chandrasekhar, The Lady Minus Macbeth. Once again translated by the famous Ramachandra Deva, this 40-minute piece was directed by Chidambara Rao Jambe.
The festival also hosted the opening of Sunil Shanbagʼs (Arpana, Mumbai) Maro Piyu Gayo Rangoon – a Gujarati musical. Adapted by Mihir Bhuta, this 120-minute play had the most exquisite costumes, apart from a set that was immediately reminiscent of Gujarat from a by-gone time.
The theatre troupes of Bangalore put up Much Ado…and The Seduction of Lady Anne and The Dagger. The two performances were managed by Dramanon Theatre, directed by Nirmala Ravindran and Swetanshu Bora.
The brilliant Georgian adaptation of Shakespeareʼs As You Like It called Rogorts Genebot. The audiences were treated to a play within a play replete with exquisite costumes, props and sets. Georgia is known in Europe for its high quality theatre, and the Marjanishvili Theatre of Tbilisi is counted among the oldest and foremost.
The newest country in the world presented their adaptation of Cymbeline. The South Sudan Theatre Company (SSTC) wove together the tale of the nationʼs political upheaval and juxtaposed it with Shakespeareʼs play in Juba Arabic. Celebratory dances, elaborate costumes of the region, and energetic performances filled the stage with this lesser-known Shakespearean tragic-romance.
The team from Bangladesh presented a Bengali adaptation of Tempest, what is believed to be the Bardʼs last play. With beautiful sails for sets, colourful costumes, lively drummers with spinning dhols (Indian drums), the team from Bangladesh put up a spectacular show.
A fitting end to the Fest, the hilarious Kiswahili adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor had the audiences in splits. The team was full of energy with brilliant comic timing and interacted with the audiences in each show.