Bard-day cake & Duncan's ex-wife

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 29.04.12

A meeting room in British Council library turned into a makeshift stage on April 23 as a motley group of actors enacted scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, sang songs and read out some of his sonnets. The event was organised on the occasion of the bard’s 448th birth anniversary, along with Indo-British Scholars Association.

Conceived by teacher and actor-trainer Reshmi Bose, the programme saw cricket commentator Kishore Bhimani, PR consultant Rita Bhimani, workshop facilitator Caroline Turner Servaia and actors Samadarshi Dutta and Titas Bhowmick recreate a world of passion, lies, romance and conspiracy through Shakespeare’s works.

The performance, before a select audience, began on a crackling note with the courting scene from The Taming of the Shrew. As Petruchio, played by Samadarshi (of Bhooter Bhobishyot fame), tried to woo the beautiful Katherina Minola (played by Titas) through reverse psychology, their chemistry and quips charged the atmosphere instantly. There was also a bit of Macbeth, Hamlet, Tempest and The Merchant of Venice thrown in between the music and sonnet reading.

Reshmi played a very convincing Lady Macbeth as she partly cajoled and partly railed Macbeth (played by Caroline) to murder Duncan. Kishore Bhimani’s Shylock was much appreciated as also Samadarshi’s brooding Hamlet . The actor also sang O mistress mine (from Twelfth Night) and Fear no more the heat o’ the sun (Dirge from Cymbeline).

The performers also read two sonnets before conducting an open quiz on the bard. In the end, the guests and performers joined hands to sing Happy Birthday Willie boy and cut a big chocolate cake in his honour.

Macbeth the young actor

The Ghosts of Shakespeare Festival is meant to be an annual affair presented by the Arshinagar Project, showcasing experimental performances to mark the bard’s birth and death anniversaries. On at various venues across the city, from April 23 -30, this is a zero-budget, open-to-all festival.

Arshinagar’s own attempt directed by Arka Mukhopadhyay at Oxford Bookstore on April 23, Fools and Princes, used everything from acting, music, Indian traditional folk forms and very topical political references to link extracts from As You Like It, Hamlet and King Lear.

Performed at the same venue, Spare-the-Shake by Oglam Production, was a smart presentation by actors Janardan Ghosh, Sourav Das and Rijita Chatterjee. Here Macbeth was presented with big doses of slapstick. Duncan is the owner of a theatre group, Lady Macbeth is his ex-wife who wants to own the group at any cost and Macbeth is a young actor called Sourav who wants to play the role of Shakespeare’s Macbeth someday. The three witches are astrological pop-ups on a laptop screen. The play, intended as an expression of disappointment at the way the “big Bengali theatre directors” have produced Shakespeare, however, lacks depth.

Dona Ganguly performs in “Rabindranath in Balinese Outset — Chittrangada” presented by Dhwani Academy of Percussion Music at ICCR on April 27. (Bhubaneswarananda Halder)

Coming up is Insert the Hamletclone by Best of Kolkata Campus at Modern High School on April 30 at 3pm.

KKR baba

It was well past midnight when fans were leaving the Eden Gardens after a rain-delayed Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils match on April 5. At the Strand Road intersection, beside the police control booth, they were struck by a strange sight. An emaciated man, wearing a KKR headband around his forehead, was seated on the pavement in Padmasana posture and was briskly following the breath-in breath-out kapalbhaati routine. And if anyone stopped, they were blown away by a volley of rhythmic chants. Fired thick and fast like a T20 batting blitzkrieg, the chants made a bewildering battery of claims involving sundry spiritual texts from the Gita to the Bible to the Koran.

Soon he would change track to talk of Swami Vivekananda’s exploits. But just as you take him to be a Vivekananda disciple, he would start singing: Main bhi Anna, Tu bhi Anna, hurtling fast forward down history lane.

One young man gathered courage and managed to put in a question edgewise: “Er, why are you wearing a KKR headband?” Pat came the straight drive: “Twenty-20 is the future of the world, because there are 20 paths to salvation.”

As he started pontificating on each, the fans left in mirth, following their individual paths home. They had found a name for the mystery man. They christened him KKR Baba.

(Contributed by Chandreyee Ghose, Sebanti Sarkar and Sudeshna Banerjee)