World Shakespeare Festival in UK
Dhaka Theatre’s The Tempest critically acclaimedCulture Desk
It is apt that in the middle of a dismally wet spring, a play that begins with a storm and ends with a sea voyage is performed by a group of actors from a land itself troubled by water. Dhaka Theatre's Tempest, adapted by Rubayet Ahmed, is short on words but strong on both music and dancing, reflecting the company's taste for mixing traditional forms of performance with more modern ideas, reported the UK-based Guardian on Tuesday in a review by Imogen Tilden.
Dhaka Theatre staged two shows of Shakespeare’s The Tempest on Monday and Tuesday at the historic Globe Theatre in London. This was for the first time any theatre production in Bangla language had been performed in Globe Theatre.
On the occasion of The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company, a six-week international theatre festival, organised by Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company, began on 21 April at the Globe Theatre featuring William Shakespeare’s 37 plays in 37 languages by theatre troupes from different corners of the world.
Shakespeare's concerns in The Tempest are universal ones – power, love, betrayal, revenge and forgiveness – and these are sketched in broad brushstrokes by the multi-skilled company. The 13-strong casts (11 actors, two musicians) are dressed in pale traditional costumes with bright patches of colours – green, yellow and red. Gestures and stylised movements establish characters: Ariel, played by a woman whose hair flows down her back almost to her legs, is shrouded in a midnight-blue gauze to perform her magic, while Prospero's charms are evoked by two drummers who beat frenetic rhythms on double-headed hand drums while leaping and whirling, reported guardian.co.uk.
This adaptation sees human concerns take centre-stage – Miranda and Ferdinand's marriage is celebrated by a rousing song and dance, while the final tableau is not of Ariel being freed, nor of Prospero turning away from his magic, but of Caliban standing tall on a makeshift throne, clutching the conch shell Prospero has handed him, symbolising his kingship of the now-empty island.
My Bengali (the world's sixth most spoken language) is non-existent, alas, but plenty of the audience appreciated the generously done broad humour of the Stephano/Trinculo/Caliban scenes; likewise, the king and his three courtiers were strongly and likably played.
To my mind, the heart of the play lies in the relationship of Prospero and Ariel. Both here felt underplayed: Prospero lacked authority, while Ariel's presence was so diminished that she seemed little more than a supporting player. Their final scene, though, was beautifully realised – as Prospero grants Ariel her freedom, he stands behind her, arms loosely encircling her. She reaches up, stretching towards the infinite sky, poised to take flight, and laughs for joy, added the UK based prominent newspaper’s online edition.
The adaptation included snippets of well-known Bengali folk tunes – drinking songs for Stephano, wedding tunes and so on. The exotic element even for Bengalis came with a couple of Manipuri drummers, spirits who somersaulted with their drums, reviewed the British arts critical website theartsdesk.com on Wednesday in a review by Peter Culshaw.
This was, more than anything, a good-natured production. You never felt the characters were in jeopardy – this was a resilient rather than a demure Miranda, Caliban was a hail-fellow-well-met sort, and Prospero did not particularly emanate mystery or power. This was all partly because of the production’s semi-successful attempt to use gestures and stylised movements to signify character. In the case of Prospero, he moved around like a crane proceeding slowly on hot coals, which rather undermined his air of authority, the review added.
The knock-about slapstick of Trinculo certainly amused the audience, about a third of whom were Bengalis. But heavy stress laid on the musical and physical meant it worked for us non-Bengali speakers too, even if we missed out on the translated cadences of Shakespeare’s last, most profoundly poetic play.
The leaping into song at any prompt gave this Tempest a Bollywood flavour, as did the romance-in-danger and happy ending. I’ve sometimes thought that Shakespeare might nowadays be writing Bollywood movies with all their family feuds and mistaken identities. You could certainly imagine a version of this production working on film even if the dancing here was a little amateurish - disconcertingly so until you got used to the idea that Miranda's, for example, lent the character an untutored innocence. After all, she hadn’t spent her life in dancing academies, evaluated UK based theartsdesk.com.
If the emotional resonances of the play seemed muted in the first half, the scenes of forgiveness, the renunciation of Prospero and the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand did bring some spiritual depth. But here the climactic moments featured the liberation of Ariel, who danced and laughed for joy, and, even more so, Caliban on a makeshift throne, blowing a conch, all deformity gone. This was a post-colonial reading of the play, in which freedom from oppression by the magic-wielding colonialists gave rise to hope, the review added.
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