Posts Tagged ‘India’

Shakespeare in India: Modes of Performance

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Universalized Shakespeare

The universalized Shakespeare stream is seen through a Marathi production, directed by Sharad Bhuthadia, by profession a pediatrician, but belonging to a category prominent in India, of the amateur professional. These are artists who do not earn their main living in theatre, yet devote all their leisure and creative energy to it, run theatre groups and even travel with their shows to different parts of the country. Bhuthadia’s group, Pratyaya, chose to perform Lear inspired by the much acclaimed translation by Vinda Karnadikar, eminent Marathi poet, who is able to capture the nuances of Shakespeare’s language without sacrificing its images or allusions.

A faithful translation, it was performed in a manner ‘faithful’ to the tradition of realist staging of Shakespeare. This has been the most common staging practice for Shakespeare in India. Based on universalist assumptions of a stable and authoritative text, it performs Shakespeare straight letting the text speak for itself. It seeks to let the past live in the present, playing up its foreignness. Though sometimes critiqued as “derivative” and “essentialising,” this universalist staging practice, particularly in our colonial and postcolonial context, functions as an empowering mimicry. “Doing it like them” becomes a mastering of the master colonising text.

(more…)

Shakespeare in India: Chronology of King Lear Productions in India

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

(Citing language, translator, director, group and place based on available information).

1832     Scenes, Lear (III.iii), English, Chowringhee Theatre, Calcutta.

1880     Atipidacarita,    Marathi, tr./adapt. S M Ranade, Aryodharak Company, Poona.

1897     Rajavu Lear, Malayalam, tr./dir./actor Govinda Pillai, Trivandrum.

1906     Har Jeet, Urdu. Munshi Murad Ali, dir. David Joseph. Victoria Theatrical Company, Bombay.

1907     Safed Khoon, Urdu, Agha Hashr Kashmiri, Parsi Company, Bombay.

(1919)          “          “          Jalal Ahmed Shah

1962     Lear, English, St Stephen’s College Shakespeare Society with Roshan Seth, Delhi.

1964     Raja Lear, Urdu, tr. Majnoon Gorakhpuri, dir. Ebrahim Alkazi, National School of Drama, Delhi.
(more…)

Shakespeare in India: History of King Lear in India

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

King Lear is an appropriate play with which to illustrate these tendencies and periodisation in the performance history of Shakespeare in India. One of the more frequently performed tragedies, it spans all these streams and periods and, in the last twenty years, particularly, it has become a kind of a measure or testing ground of actors and theatre groups. Its first performance in India was in 1832, when some scenes, in English, were done at the Chowringhee Theatre. Calcutta. During the period of ‘adapted’ Shakespeare, from the 1860s to the 1910s, in the 1880s a happy-ending version of Lear, Atipidacharita (The story of the intensely wronged one), influenced by Nahum Tate, in Marathi, became popular in Bombay. Another adapted and localized version, Safed Khoon (White Blood or Filial Treachery) by Agha Hashr Kashmiri, for the Parsi theatre in 1906, achieved commercial success and was played throughout the country.
(more…)

Shakespeare in India

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Lai, Ananda and Sukanta Chaudhuri, eds. Shakespeare on the Calcutta Stage: A Checklist, Calcutta: Papyrus, 2001.

Nagarajan, S., and S. Viswanathan, eds. Shakespeare in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Narasimhaiah. C.D., ed. Shakespeare came to India, Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1964.

Paul, Sunita, ed. A Tribute to Shakespeare, New Delhi: Theatre and Television Associates, 1989.

Shakespeare in India, a brochure. National Library, Calcutta, 1964.

Shankar, D.A., ed. Shakespeare in Indian Languages, Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1999.

Trivedi, Poonam and Dennis Bartholomeusz. eds. India’s Shakespeare: Translation, Interpretation and Performance, Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005.
(more…)

Shakespeare in India: Introduction

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

That Shakespeare came to India with colonialism is well know. What is less known and not readily acknowledged, even in India, is that Shakespeare was first introduced to India as an entertainer. His plays are known to have been first performed, in English for the diversion of European traders in Calcutta and Bombay around 1775, but by the 1850s they are beginning to be performed in translation in the Indian languages. While the study of the English Language and Shakespeare was an imperial imposition, the performance of Shakespeare was not, and the stage forms a vital part of this long history of intercultural engagement.

This interaction between Shakespeare and India can be charted via five main tendencies: the English language Shakespeare, the localized Shakespeare, the universalized Shakespeare, the indigenised Shakespeare and the post-colonial Shakespeare.

  • The earliest dramatisations of Shakespeare by Indians were of scenes in schools and colleges. 1822 is the first such known performance, at Hindu College, Calcutta. It initiated a tradition which had continued to this day, of the performance in English by Indians as part of the English language learning exercise.
  • The earliest performances, in translation, were usually adaptations ranging from a simple change of names to an interpolation of character and action, along with song and dance, and may be seen as politic or appropriations, making the foreign one’s own.
  • This was followed by a period of faithful performances, with few or no adaptive changes, with western costume and mise en scene, which in the context of colonialism, was another kind of mastering of the master text, a universalizing of its themes and ideas.
  • Later, particularly after independence in 1947, Shakespeare’s plays were co-opted in the search for identity. They were transposed into various indigenous theatre forms as part of the “back to the roots” movement in theatre and helped to forge a new performative idiom while giving an added respectability and stability to the traditional forms.
  • From the nineties onwards, in the increasingly post-colonial world, Indians have felt freer to approach Shakespeare. There is no longer the need to ‘adapt,’ rather they can make bold to ‘play’ around with Shakespeare’s text, with what was once the colonial book, and deconstruct it for their own needs.

We hope you enjoy viewing the Indian productions in this archive.