Shakespeare with a Sudanese twist

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 - 3:49pm IST | Place: Bangalore

Today, head to the ongoing Ranga Shankara Theatre Fest for a surprise from the newest country in the world — South Sudan.

The magic of the great playwright Shakespeare’s Cymbeline is all set to hit the festival stage at Ranga Shankara, who are halfway through their Shakespeare Theatre Fest 2012. But this time, the play comes back to the Bangalore audience in a completely different avatar, laden with the jubilation of a new country, a new people and the baggage of a political movement that is finally seeing hope.

The newest country in the world, South Sudan, has come out to face a great cultural challenge with this — the country’s first Shakespeare production by the South Sudan Theatre Company (SSTC). Through this play, the troupe hopes to tell the story of South Sudan’s dark past and uncertain future.

SSTC’s adaptation of the  play, is directed by Joseph Abuk Dori and Derik Uya Alfred Ngbangu and echoes  South Sudan’s current and unfolding history — a war of liberation that has seen people displaced from home and self amidst betrayal, love and a political settlement on the eve of a battle.

The play has  been translated from Shakespearean English to Juba Arabic, a language without a dictionary, indigenous to precisely the people living around Juba.

In May 2012, the South Sudanese production appeared at London’s Globe Theatre as a part of the cultural Olympiad, that saw the participation of 37 international troupes. SSTC’s performance at Globe rounded off with a cry for peace and the singing of their national anthem that had the houseful audience in tears and in a standing ovation. “When we put the call out for Shakespeare productions from different countries, the proposal we got from SSTC was the single most compelling and irresistible,” said Tom Bird, director of Globe to Globe, that saw this production for the first time, outside South Sudan.

Bangalore will get to witness this amazing play today and tomorrow, a journey and testament in itself at the Ranga Shankara theatre festival, and if you consider yourself a theatre aficionado, then ensure your seats have already been booked.

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