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Ramayana to shine in Shakespeare's land

An English theatre director is working on a version of the Indian epic Ramayana to be staged in Britain next month.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 08:50 IST

An English theatre director is working on a version of the Indian epic Ramayana to be staged in Britain next month.

David Farr is credited with both adapting and directing the new production, which combines thrilling storytelling with theatrical exuberance. Shri, a leading player in the British Asian music circuit, provides the soundtrack.

The Ramayana, Britons feel, has had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent as well as Southeast Asia.

Farr has compressed the vast episode into an easily digestible and still meaningful form with a running time of a little more than two hours, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The epic, more than 2,500 years old, tells the story of a prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by demon king Ravana. It also contains the teachings of ancient Hindu sages.

The characters of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India.

According to the director, Ramayana remains relatively unknown in Britain, because there is a perception that it requires a deep familiarity with the tenets of Hinduism.

"There's such a Shakespearean quality about it. The first act is like A Midsummer Night's Dream. Young, beautiful people are exiled to a forest, a place of strange spirituality where the established order is reversed, aristocrats meet poor people and magic takes place," Farr said.

"Through hardship and disasters, Rama is forced to confront who he is as a human being. It's all about the self, the soul. For Hindus it's a deeply symbolic story," he said.

It is increasingly noticed that epics are becoming the favourite subject for young generation theatre-makers in Britain.

In the past Farr had successfully adapted plays like Paradise Lost and The Odyssey.