Shakespeare classic in seven languages
Mark Brown, arts correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday November 1, 2006
It had reviews to kill for and was hailed as one of the greatest productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream. But with only 12 performances in the UK, the question was always, will it be seen again? Today it will be announced that Tim Supple's Indian production of Shakespeare's play, performed in seven languages with only about half in English, will indeed be performed again - at the restored Roundhouse in north London before going on a national tour.
The Guardian's Michael Billington called it the most life-enhancing production of Shakespeare's play since Peter Brook's (a landmark 1970 Royal Shakespeare Company production), while the Daily Telegraph predicted it would be talked about for decades. Those plaudits were repeated elsewhere. The evolution of the production was in some ways as remarkable as its execution. Supple was first commissioned by the British Council in India and Sri Lanka to create a theatre production to tour.
After a year travelling India the director brought together 23 dancers, musicians, actors and performers for a seven-week rehearsal period to create a production performed in English, Tamil, Bengali, Hindi, Malaysian, Sinhalese, Marathi and a little Sanskrit. The designers, composers and production team were also found in the subcontinent.
Supple said: "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."
The original cast has been reassembled and it will play at the Roundhouse for six weeks from March 8 before touring the UK at venues to be announced. It will then play cities in India before a world tour. Supple said the themes of A Midsummer Night's Dream - myth and urban reality, the supernatural and spiritual, the trials of lovers and struggles of workers - were all "thrillingly alive in India and Indian theatre today."
09.06.2006: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Swan, Stratford