Shakespearean English may be a tough act to follow in 21st Century India but that shouldn’t stop theatre lovers from experiencing the playwright’s legendary ability to tell a good story.
Piya Behroopiya, a Hindi folk theatre adaptation of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most loved plays, is being staged in Mumbai for the first time on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24. This follows the play’s sensational April opening at the historical Globe Theatre in London, where it was staged as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.
Director Atul Kumar of The Company Theatre, whose production Piya Behroopiya is, still hasn’t descended from the high of staging the play at the historical venue. “It was special for the entire troupe to be performing at the hallowed Globe Theatre where Shakespeare himself staged his work centuries ago. Nothing prepared us for the huge response we got.”
Twelfth Night combines cruelty with high comedy and the pangs of unrequited love with some of the subtlest poetry and most exquisite songs William Shakespeare ever wrote.
Kumar, who is rehearsing with the entire cast at Kamshet, near Pune, says the bard’s classics have always had universal appeal. “His work lends itself to adaptation seamlessly. It works even with audiences who have no previous exposure to his work. One is humbled by how his work is truly timeless and universal.”
This French literature student who has trained in Kathakali and Kalaripayattu in Kerala for over three years and has also done a stint with master of visual theatre Philippe Genty in France, says he is hugely excited about how Mumbai audiences will respond. “After all, no matter how feted you are outside, performing for the home crowd is always that much more special.” The production will be staged at Bandra’s Rangsharda Theatre over the coming weekend.
Since founding The Company Theatre in 1993, Kumar has directed several experimental plays that have won wide acclaim in India and abroad. He is also well known for his work with the Sacramento Theatre Company, USA.
The Company Theatre is an ensemble of professional and amateur artists working through repertory performances and professional training.