Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre’s Malayalam adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ won four META awards. M.G. Jyothish won the award for the best director.

Theatre is not M.G. Jyothish’s profession. It is his passion. What is special about Jyothish, a postgraduate from the School of Drama, Thrissur, is that he has made his reputation and won laurels in theatre without shifting base from Kerala.

Just back in the capital city after winning four Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) for best director, choreography, light and costume, Jyothish says he does not see it as his personal triumph. He says Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre’s Malayalam adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ winning four awards is an important recognition for Malayalam theatre and for the language of theatre because not only did his interpretation and adaptation of the classic Shakespearean play sweep the awards but it also proved that theatre is not circumscribed by barriers of language.

“There is a misconception that only English theatre or those from North India can make an impression on cosmopolitan audiences like the one in Delhi or the jury members. But our success proved that theatre has a universal language that goes beyond the spoken one. That is why our Malayalam adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ made such an impact,” adds Jyothish.

Awards, success and global recognition are not new to Jyothish. ‘Siddarth’ and ‘Sagara Kanyaka', both directed by him, were staged at Avignon and Sydney respectively. “Primary discussions are on for the inclusion of ‘Macbeth’ in the Edinburgh Theatre Festival. One of the artistic directors of a major festival told me that of the 300 or more stage adaptations of ‘Macbeth’, this was among the six best plays he had seen,” he says.

He says he chose ‘Macbeth’ because “it is a play that plumbs the darkest depths of our mind – greed, desire, lust, ambition, there is little that this classic play does not touch upon,” says the director.

A stylised adaptation of ‘Macbeth’, Jyothish’s play delves into the psychology of Macbeth, leaving aside the socio-political perspective of the play. The story is narrated through the three central characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Banquo.

With superb lighting, acting and choreography enhancing the dramatic elements in the play, ‘Macbeth’ comes across as a visual poem.

“Since I can draw, I was able to design the kind of costumes that went with the flow of the play. That also helped me to complement the narrative of the play when it was staged,” explains the director.

He points out many of the leading theatre activists are from Kerala because “serious theatre” is still practised by many in the State.