Shakespeare in Sanyas

As the scene opens,William Shakespeare,played by a sombre actor,appears busy at his desk at home.

Written by Garima Mishra | Published:February 16, 2012 1:19 am

As the scene opens,William Shakespeare,played by a sombre actor,appears busy at his desk at home. He is way too occupied in his thoughts and writing to pay attention to his wife,who has been asking him to fetch firewood as it is a chilly evening. Stand by for a bit of drama.

Shakespeare: “To be or not to be?” Mrs Shakespeare (angrily thrusting an empty bucket into his lap): “Firewood or no firewood; that is the question! Do you want to die of cold tonight?”

Salila Kubitza,who lives in Germany,spent enough time rehearsing her dialogues for the character of Mrs Shakespeare in this comedy Shakespeare Remix. Like Kubitza,there are others from different parts of the world busy doing the same. Nisarg Kalaiya,an NRI from Australia,plays the tragic role of Hamlet,while Devapria Gokani from Germany is called “Nobody”. UK-based Anand Savita and Dawa Riley play Queen Elizabeth and Ophelia respectively. The main theme of this play is Hamlet’s existentialist dilemma: “To be or not to be” — fodder for a few thousand literary musings over centuries.

Set for its first public performance,the play has been produced under Ragni Chandrethia’s Dreamup Productions. Currently rehearsing in the city,the group will present Shakespeare Remix on February 19 at Nehru Memorial Hall in Pune. They also plan to stage it in Delhi,Mumbai and Bengaluru. Although they live in different parts of the world,they belong to the acting group “The No Mind Players” and are all Osho sanyasis (members). “We all got to know each during our visits to Pune’s Osho International Meditation Resort,but the play is independent of any Osho organisation. We are doing it for free because we enjoy theatre and this is our first project together,” says Subhuti.

The play is written by Denmark-based sanyasi,Anand Subhuti,who plays the protagonist.

Shakespeare Remix ,will portray literature’s most known playwrights and poets in a new light. Known for his complex tragedies like Macbeth,Othello,Hamlet and King Lear among others,the Bard here is confronted with the philosophy of Osho. Subhuti feels that Shakespearen plays depict vanity,ambition,greed,struggle for power,misery,revenge,bitterness and such. “His writings were a portrayal of human ego and desires. But,in this play,Shakespeare’s wife advocates Osho’s philosophy of dropping the ego through love,humour,dance and celebration. She nags her husband to the extent that he not only changes his philosophy but also gives Hamlet a happy ending,” says Subhuti,who has been visiting India for the past 36 years. He was also a part of the Rajneesh Shakespeare Company that toured cities like Mumbai,Pune and Delhi and presented two plays — A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night — between 1979 and 1980.

Kalaiya,one of the actors,admits that playing Hamlet is a bit of a stretch for somebody like him as he has developed a strong Australian accent. “I am nervous as well as excited about playing the prince in a Shakespeare play,” he says. On the other hand Gokani dwells on a paradox. “Every character in a play has an ego,but I’m playing a guy called Nobody. How can Nobody have an ego? That’s the paradox! But,acting aside,I do still have one — an ego,that is,” he says.

Ask Subhuti whether the play will go down well with the litteratti and Shakespeare fans,considering that Osho philosophy has met with controversy in the past,and he says,“Shakespeare was not afraid to take liberties with history in order to write his dramas,and I am doing the same. For example,in my play,Shakespeare’s obsession with tragedy is motivated by his desire to please Queen Elizabeth I. She is portrayed as old and bitter in the last year of her life and she’s interested only in plays that show human suffering.”

The play will be staged

at Nehru memorial Hall,Camp,Mumbai,on February 19

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