The so-called “Indian Dream” had its UK premiere this summer, for 12 sell-out performances only, as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s year-long Complete Works festival in Stratford-upon-Avon (See News, 21 Apr 2006). Its London premiere – running from 13 March to 14 April 2007 (previews from 8 March) – precedes a major UK tour and international tour.
Created in India with Indian and Sri Lankan performers, the production is the culmination of a project that began in autumn 2004 as a British Council commission. A diverse company of 23 dancers, musicians and actors initially came together for a seven-week rehearsal process to create the piece, performed – originally in outdoor venues – in English, Tamil, Malaysian, Sinhalese, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Sanskrit. The result casts aside familiar traditions of performing Shakespeare and replaces them with a highly “visceral and emotional power”.
A note from Tim Supple in the press material explains: “This production arose from the extraordinary artistry and range of contemporary Indian theatre. Only in India does one find 2,000-year-old traditions alive alongside an entirely modern approach to performance. Over a year of travel, the actors, musicians, dancers and street performers were gradually found as were the designers, composer and production team.
“We chose to work on Shakespeare' s Dream because we knew that modern India would illuminate and refresh the experience of this most famous play for audiences in India, the UK and across the world. Myth and urban reality; lovers' trials and workers’ struggles; the supernatural, the spiritual and the joyously earthbound; soaring beauty and filthy truth. All this is thrillingly alive in India and Indian theatre today.”
Supple’s production is presented by Dash Arts, a company the director founded with Josephine Burton in 2005 to produce new theatre, music, dance and visual art in collaboration with artists and companies from abroad. Dash Arts produced its first season of work, Dash 05, in London last autumn.
At the Roundhouse, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is co-produced by Roger Chapman, Matthew Byam Shaw and ACT Productions. Following its UK dates, the Dash Arts Dream will return to India before launching itself worldwide.
- by Terri Paddock