Giving students the bard's best

FOUR DECADES and a few years ago, Madras Players brought forth on this city, a comedy conceived by Shakespeare. Twelfth Night, the bard had called it. Today, several years later, the Madras Players are at it again - attempting to bring back Shakespeare's ``Twelfth Night'' to Chennai, this time, in collaboration with another `young and talented group of actors' Masquerade, the performance group.

On January 29, 30, 31 and February 1, Twelfth Night will play in the proscenium at Museum Theatre, Egmore - matinee and evening shows. Why Shakespeare, you might ask. Krishna Kumar, the artistic director of this venture and the founder of Masquerade, says it's quite in keeping with the unit's aim of taking up drama and play texts that are in school and college syllabi, so as to familiarise students with the true feel of theatre. They intend to present, essentially ``what we miss when we study Shakespeare in the classroom''.

And, of course, Twelfth Night, as P.C.Ramakrishna, one of the Pole Stars of Chennai theatre, tells us, ``is a young person's play''. It is a play about love. Since music is the food of love, they will play on.

There are several firsts to this production. For one, it is the first time, the Madras Players are collaborating with another group of playwrights. It is also the first time a non- Madras Players director is calling the shots. Significant, in the light of what Grace Krishnaswami, president of Madras Players tells us: the Madras Players are well nigh on their fiftieth year.

The cast of Twelfth Night is a good mix of experienced actors and fresh talent. Many college students, who were involved with the Natak Theatre Festival, have made the switch to mainstream theatre through this production for the first time. In essence, when you watch Twelfth Night, you will be watching the future of English Theatre in Chennai in action.

The Twelfth Night has also given the two theatre groups, a platform for conducting theatre workshops in schools. Day long workshops on the aesthetics and the labour of theatre have been conducted since early this month and seven city schools have been covered so far. These children will be invited to a special matinee show on Jan 30.

Sponsors have pitched in to help out with the extremely costly affair of putting up a play, but indeed, more are welcome, as always. Tickets are being sold for Rs. 200, 150, 100 and 50 at Landmark. If you are a theatre Club member, you are entitled to discounted rates. Contact Gopi Nair Ph: 6423016.

By Ramya Kannan

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