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Bard’s second coming to town

The Bard is set for a comeback. After the success of the inaugural edition in 2000, when Calcutta was chosen as the first Asian address for the event, the Shakespeare Society of Eastern India (SSEI) is set to host the second World Shakespeare Conference (WSC) in the city from December 1 to 4.

“The theme of the conference will be ‘Multicultural Shakespeares’, with the focus on subaltern and political aspects of the Bard’s work,” said WSC convener Debnarayan Bandyopadhyay on Saturday. Loreto College is a possible venue for the four-day affair, he added.

The first conference on ‘Colonial and Postcolonial Shakespeares’ was held in December 2000 in association with the British Council, Calcutta.

Over 200 delegates from the UK, the US, Canada, Austria and all over India attended the meet, the proceedings of which have subsequently been published. Participants from Greece and Israel are also likely to attend the second conference.

“There are alternative Shakespeares and we would like our cultural politics to increasingly engage with his works to promote the relevance of Shakespeare studies in India,” pointed out SSEI secretary Subir Dhar.

The SSEI will also organise a ‘Shakespeare walk’ on November 30. Participants holding torches and attired in Elizabethan costumes will cover the stretch from Rashbehari Avenue to Rabindra Sadan. “We aim to promote awareness in the area. Overseas scholars will visit universities and colleges in the districts and in other states once the conference is over to interact with students, researchers and academics,” said Bandyopadhyay.

The organisers have also come up with innovative programmes like Chhou dance on Shakespearean motifs to make the Bard more popular in Bengal.

“We will try to reflect Indian and Asian multicultural diversities in the course of the conference as Shakespeare is an interface that facilitates colonial and postcolonial transitional texts of power. Here lies the relevance of our conference for the postcolonial societies,” SSEI president Amitava Roy summed up.

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