Atul Kumar’s famous Piya Behrupiya, and Noises Off will be staged at Chowdiah Memorial Hall

From being commissioned by the Globe Theatre and being performed at the Globe to Globe Festival to winning six awards at the 2014 Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META), the Atul Kumar-directed Piya Behrupiya has had an eventful journey.

Piya Behrupiya, a Hindi translation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, retains the essence of the original script, but is Indian in every aspect, from the dialogues to the costumes to the music, presented in the nautanki style.

In the play, the lovelorn Orsino tries to win the heart of Olivia, who is indifferent to her suitor’s feelings. Orsino takes help from the cross-dressing Viola to convince Olivia on his behalf. Occurring simultaneously is an alliance of servants and hangers-on against Malvolio, the imperious steward.

Atul Kumar, artistic director at The Company Theatre, Mumbai, speaks of the journey of putting the production together. “When Globe Theatre contacted me, I chose Twelfth Night because I wanted to work with a musical,” says Atul in a telephonic interview. Atul was moved by Amitosh Nagpal’s translation of the play. “Amitosh has translated Shakespeare before. He had a fantastic understanding of the script.” The power-house performances are one of the highpoints of the production. “Since it was a musical, I chose actors who could sing and singers who could act. We rehearsed for a month.”

Many factors have led to the success of Piya Behrupiya, judging from the slew of awards it won at META, including best play, best ensemble performance, best supporting actor, best supporting actress and a special jury citation for Script. Atul says, with humility, “I didn’t win best director at META. I think that was a good decision because I believe the play belongs to Amitosh and Gagan Dev Riar, who composed the music. The music has a quality that touches you.”

Shakespeare’s plays and Atul Kumar have had a long and successful association. “I encountered Shakespeare when I was 15, and I was very scared of him,” he says, laughing. “But my fear of him went away and I performed in Nothing Like Lear and Hamlet the Clown Prince.”

Piya Behrupiya will be staged at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on March 15 at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, 16th cross, GD Park Extension, 2nd Main Road, Malleshwaram. There will be two shows at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm. Tickets are priced at Rs. 300, Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 and are available at bookmyshow.com. Call 23445810.

The Company Theatre also presents Noises Off, written by Michael Frayn and directed by Atul, that will be staged at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on March 16 at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm. Tickets are priced at Rs. 300, Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 and are available at bookmyshow.com.