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Macbeth in motion

art-and-culture Updated: Jan 04, 2011 15:10 IST
Jayeeta Mazumder
Jayeeta Mazumder
Hindustan Times
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For generations, she has fascinated poets and readers alike. She is perhaps the most powerful woman sketched by William Shakespeare. Soon the city will be witness to Lady Macbeth’s personality traits being conveyed through Indian classical dance on stage. Directed by Vikram Iyengar, Crossings, a Ranan Performance Collective Production, will debut in the city as part of NCPA Anubhuti. The play will showcase Lady Macbeth’s four facets with four artistes performing and engaging in on-stage dialogue.

NCPA’s music department contacted Iyengar, and he credits it to the fact that his play has a strong text and that the music is original and performed live. Crossings weaves together Indian dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Manipuri, along with a background score comprising percussion, folk, tribal and Indian classical.

ShakespeareThe idea was born in Iyengar’s mind after he watched a 45-minute solo performance of the character by a Chinese Opera actor in 2001. He decided to use Indian arts to write a script for this intriguing character. "Coming from an Indian classical dance background got me wondering if it’s possible to merge the text with traditional dance forms. But it wasn’t easy, we had never done anything like this before, we had no clue what technique could be used. But the dancers brought in their own interpretations and that really helped."

In its 26th show run, the production has changed its cast several times and even though the framework is set, the ability of each dancer brings in new elements to the play. “Each new artiste responds differently to the characters, music, text, and other characters on stage, so it’s a revisiting of sorts every time,” Iyengar explains. This time, the cast comprises Anubha Fatehpuria, Dana Roy, Debashree Bhattacharya and Jayati Chakraborty.

The plot is based on the conflicts of Lady Macbeth’s complex character and the text-based drama has no improvised dialogue, but the order may be different. Her character has been broken down into four aspects -- ambition, conscience, idealism, and her being King Macbeth’s equal partner -- and the four artistes will represent each.

With references to such figures from Indian mythology as Putana and Shakti, Crossings examines what it means to be feminine and de-feminised. The director says, “These references come up mostly during the rehearsals. Indian dance anyway comes attached with a lot of metaphor, imagery and icons. There were references connected to Draupadi also, even if not in totality. So specific images of several Indian characters crop up deliberately in context with images of Lady Macbeth.”