Happy Bard-day: evolution of the Bard on the culture scene
The Indian theatre scene, naturally, has been deeply influenced by the Bard. On his 450th birth anniversary (April 23), theatre artists talk about his works that have been staged in India beginning right in the 50s.art and culture Updated: Apr 23, 2014 13:50 IST
From studying his plays and watching on-screen adaptations to reciting his s­onnets to woo lovers, William Shakespeare has made his presence felt at some point in all our lives. The Indian theatre scene, naturally, has been deeply influenced by the Bard. On his 450th birth ­anniversary (April 23), theatre artists talk about his works that have been staged in India ­beginning right in the 50s.
One of the earliest Shakespearean dramas to be performed in India dates back to the 50s with Alyque Padamsee’s The Taming Of The Shrew. “I staged the play in 1954, for which my brother designed the sets inspired by Picasso’s Cubist paintings. Since then, I have adapted Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Romeo And Juliet, Othello and Macbeth too,” says Padamsee.Among the ongoing adaptations are Atul Kumar’s Hamlet — The Clown Prince and Piya Behrupiya (Twelfth Night), which has nearly 75 shows to its credit and has also been staged overseas.
“There are people who have seen it over 10 times. They now sing along,” says Kumar. Nothing Like Lear, starring Pathak as a clown, is also often staged. Other ­popular adaptations on the Capital’s culture scene are The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet and The Merchant Of Venice.
Macbeth comes out top
Macbeth seems to be the Shakespeare play that is most often adapted by theatre groups. Among those who have experimented with it are Vinay Pathak, Salim Ghouse and Alyque Padamsee. While Ghouse staged it in the early 90s without altering the ­original text, Pathak’s contemporary version was ­performed in the 2000s. Padamsee reworked the play with three tantrics instead of witches, and Goddess Kali ­represented Lady Macbeth.
Did you know
Women were not allowed to act in plays during Shakespeare’s time. So, in all of his plays, women’s roles were performed by boys/young men. In As You Like It, the boy artist had to play Rosalind, a woman who pretends to be a man pretending to be … a woman!
Shakespeare in Bollywood
Maqbool (2004): Macbeth
Ishaqzaade (2012), Issaq (2013), Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013): Romeo And Juliet
Omkara (2006): Othello
Haider (upcoming): Hamlet