Theatre

Shakespeare all the way

GETTING INTO THE GROOVE: Students of E.M.G. Yadava Womens College performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo: R. Ashok

GETTING INTO THE GROOVE: Students of E.M.G. Yadava Womens College performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo: R. Ashok  

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream staged by E.M.G.Yadava Women’s College students brought to fore Elizabethan society, sense and sensibilities

The path leading to the auditorium was decorated with rangoli portraits of Shakespeare as students flanking the pathway welcomed the guests with broad smiles on their faces. It was carnival time at the E.M.G. Yadava Women’s College. “This is the first time we are staging Shakespeare’s play and it is a momentous occasion for us. It is not easy to perform especially with students who come from rural background,” says Ganga Devi, Dean and Head, Department of English, the organiser of the play.

The stage is festooned with bright coloured bunting and the wooden steps lead to a platform with decorative backdrop presenting the court hall of the Duke Theseus’ palace. A wide ranging musical score introduces the play to the spectators. The play opens with the wedding celebration of Theseus and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta and their joyous moment is disrupted by angry shouts of Egeus, who is more particular in separating his daughter Hermia from her sweetheart Lysander and get her married to Demetrius, his first choice.

But Hermia’s friend, Helena, is in love with Demetrius. Following which the four pursue each other into the woods and get caught in the maze of romantic entanglements. Meanwhile, Oberon, the King of fairies, and his estranged wife, Titania, arrive at the same woods to attend the upcoming nuptials. Titania refuses to lend her Indian page-boy to Oberon for use as his `henchman', and Oberon seeks to punish her for disobedience.

Oberon recruits the mischievous Puck (also called Hobgoblin, Robin Goodfellow) to help him regain Titania's devotion by using the magic flower `Love-in-Idleness', but his simultaneous attempt to help the young lovers goes wrong, resulting in confusion, when Hermia's two lovers temporarily turn against her in favour of Helena.

The rude mechanicals as part of their preparation to perform a crude pageant on the theme of Pyramus and Thisbe for the wedding festivities of the royal couple, also venture into the forest for rehearsal along with Nick Bottom, the Weaver, one of Shakespeare's most admired comic creations. Bottom finds his head transformed into that of an ass, and the fairy queen is made to fall in love with him. The concord in discord is finally resolved and the play ends well.

The three interlocking plots are connected by the celebration of the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.

The cast for female characters including Hermia (played by Shivani) and Helena (Nivetha) was apt and they did commendable job. In her attempt to deliver the dialogues, Aarthi Shanmuki, who donned the role of Duke Theseus, shouted in full throated voice.

Sporting an overtly tight polyester suit, pant and gold-coloured wig, all male characters found themselves out of place. The mechanicals’ effort to provide comic relief failed miserably, the only solace being Divya Bharathi, who played the Puck character. She did enough justice to her role as one could notice the stealth in her movements.

“When we decided to stage an English play we could not think of any play other than Shakespeare because of the popularity of the story. In fact, we followed the abridged version,” says Andrina Genesia Quinn, director of the play.

Even with minimum stage properties, the performers aided by attractive music were able to communicate the story well.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 10:34:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/Shakespeare-all-the-way/article15799733.ece

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