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Home / Art and Culture / Move over Shakespeare

Move over Shakespeare

Contemporary plays have become more popular than Shakespearean plays at the NSD annual festivals, reports Parul Abrol.

art-and-culture Updated: Jan 15, 2008 12:52 IST
Parul Abrol
Parul Abrol
Hindustan Times

There seems to be a systematic decline in the popularity of Shakespearean plays in National School of Drama (NSD) annual festivals. In 2006 there were seven Shakespeare plays, in 2007 only four plays were staged. And this year, the count has gone down to just two -

Julius Caesar


Romeo Juliet


Moreover, none of these plays are in their original form.

Julius Caesar

is a modern day interpretation in Urdu and English while

Romeo Juliet

is translated and adapted in Mizo.

Doing away with the bard?

Over the years, there has been a constant attempt to popularise theatre in remotest parts of the country And this in effect has triggered changes in the themes for plays. Also, there is a shift of interest from classics to contemporary.

Says Bansi Kaul, a veteran theatre director, "People these days are trying new texts, new scripts and contemporary problems. Regional people want to represent their region and aspirations instead of doing classical theatre."

Reasons for downfall

The present trend indicates that people are losing interest in Shakespearean plays, resulting in their steady decline. Amir Raza Hussain, a play director, feels that adaptations, which are very popular these days, distort the original feel of the plays.

"Essence of Shakespeare lies in its tonal quality and flow of words and adaptations compromise with that," he says. His words seem to find place especially in

Julius Caesar


Rakhi Talwar, an avid theatre lover who has seen the play says, "The play compromised on its seriousness when Caesar and his cabinet couldn't pronounce most of the Urdu words properly"

In defence, Bapi Bose, director of

Julius Caesar

says, "We have to interpret Shakespeare according to modern times and in our language. I stick to classical theatre and its elegance but at the same time, I impart modern touch to it."

Mizo adaptation of

Romeo Juliet

also couldn't find audience relating to it much. A Mizo student Franky who watched the play says, "I really got confused with three Romeos and two Juliets randomly running across the stage. They wandered off the script a little too much."

Reasons could be many but it seems people are really not much interested in watching classic Shakespearean plays anymore.