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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shakespearean Rhapsody


By Chirag Sharma
Photography: Vivek Venkatraman &  Ishaan Nair 


Shakespeare Globe theatre in London - the prestigious and passionate address for theatre-connoisseurs is reinterpreting Shakespeare in various languages as part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012...

Celebrating Shakespeare from April 21 to June 21, 2012, where 37 theatre productions from across the world, are staging various Shakespearean plays, each in a different language, at the Globe theatre, London, Maro Piyu Gayo Rangoon is a Gujarati play by Sunil Shanbag, who adapts 'All's Well That Ends Well' in a theatrical blend of live music, dance and drama.

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Conceptually similar to the original, the backdrops set in Saurashtra in Gujarat; Mumbai, and Rangoon in Burma; and the coordinating costumes piqued our interest and we uncovered the finer nuances that unify the two disciplines of applied art.

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Speaking to set designer Nayantara Kotian and costume designer Maxima Basu, we are introduced to a synergy that stems from and culminates in a period setting, with extensive research and authentication; subtly tweaked with creative liberties that carefully dot the line.

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Based in the 1900’s, when Indo-Burma trade thrived, and the Gujarati Bhatia community emulated royalty, the play is set within the premise of a period Indian 'playhouse', which forms the core of the design. So we see old-fashioned backdrops, manually changed by the actors, signifying a change in locale; the gold wings with the 'frills', and the plywood props, which intentionally look fake. 

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Two key aspects – modular sets and mobility are determinants of the set design here.  With the play to travel to London and even locally, every single prop, irrespective of size is made dismountable and easily packaged. Secondly, with the kind of swift scene changes All's Well has, the bringing in and taking out of props becomes part of the performance and hence all the props are very light and mostly on wheels. 

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Similarly, since live music and a vibrant kaleidoscopic aura engulf the stage with its deft rendition, almost all actors are singers and costumes are tailored to suit this dual role play. Snug fits are out as comfort is key. Also, flowing silhouettes proved impractical. The design also calls for a lot of opulence that has been catered to via liberal use of gold and rich colours; drapery details like the types of turbans, choice of jewellery, etc., speak eloquently of the era represented. Attention to textures, motifs and silhouettes complements the set design, working in tandem with locale (3 backdrops represent the 3 main location shifts) and scene shifts.

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With a 50-50 ratio of contribution between the sets and the costumes, both designers speak of an integrated approach, where colour is a major player in blending in the mood and setting of the play.

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An Arpana Production
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted by Mihir Bhuta
Music by Uday Mazumdar
Directed by Sunil Shanbag
Set Design by Nayantara Kotian
Costumes by Maxima Basu
Cast: Utkarsh Mazumdar, Minal Patel, Chirag Vora, Mansi Parekh, Archan Trivedi, Satchit Puranik, Nishi Doshi, Ajay Jairam and Natasha Singh
Showing at Globe Theatre on 23rd & 24th May'12

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