The story of mistaken identities was reaching a climax in one of the halls in Bhavans College,Andheri the hub of theatre rehearsals in Mumbai. In the adjacent room,a persuasive woman was finally winning her husband over. In case of the former,the rehearsal of Baranvi Raat,the Hindi adaptation of Shakespearean comedy Twelfth Night,by Mumbais Company Theatre group was on. The other room was occupied by Arpana Theatre groups cast of Alls Well That Ends Well in Gujarati called Maro Piyo Gayo Rangoon for its India run and Sau Saaru Jenu Chevat Saru for its London premiere. These two Indian plays feature in Globe to Globe festival a first-ever initiative by Globe Theatre,London,to stage all 37 plays by William Shakespeare in as many languages by theatre practitioners from across the world. This is part of the World Shakespeare Festival for the London 2012 Festival.
Both,Sunil Shanbag,director of Maro Piyo Gayo Rangoon,and Atul Kumar,director of Baranvi Raat,have no recent experience of watching a show at Globe. They try to visualise its space from memory and the videos they have seen online. Given that the theater which was recreated following the architecture of theater by the same name where Shakespeares plays used to take place in the 16th century has a three-tier seating area and no mic system,their first concern is to ensure that every dialogue and musical note is audible. Each play has one matinee show performed in the daylight and one evening show,when the stage is lit by halogen lamps. So,they are wary of lighting too. We have mostly worked in proscenium space. So these challenges are new, says Shanbag.
The adaptations of both these Shakespearean dramas have
resulted in musicals. When I read Twelfth Night,I could visualise it with music, says Kumar,who is directing a musical for the first time. Peppy folk music and dance apart,he wanted to keep the dialogues of the Hindi version full of banter and oodles of impishness. Unlike Kumar,Shanbag has been working with live music on stage for some time now and for this play,he has used the folk tradition of Bhangwadi. However,Maro Piyo is his first Gujarati play.
While rehearsing,both the groups also have to keep in mind the rules laid down by Globe Theatre. The maximum strength of the crew should not exceed 12, while the performance time is 105 minutes. The duration has demanded massive editing of the original text. However,we have kept the essence of the play intact, says Shanbag,adding that the group has two extra members at its own expense. Alls Well… has often been criticised for showing that its hero accepts the heroines love in the end all too fast after rejecting it throughout the play. So this Gujarati version has ensured that there is enough hint of chemistry between them,before the happy ending.
Post the rehearsals, Maro Piyo actors head for a costume photoshoot. We have changed the setting of Alls Well… from France to Saurashtra,Mumbai,and Rangoon of the early 1900s. The costumes have been created keeping that time in mind, says Shanbag. The Baranvi Raat team too takes a break and over the evening snacks start discussing their costumes. Everyone is unhappy with the way the costumes have turned out. But they have very little time in hand to fix them as they were scheduled to take the flight on Tuesday. With their shows scheduled on April 27 and 28,these issues can wait till the plays India premiere.