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All for the sake of love

DIWAN SINGH BAJELI

"Romeo and Juliet" presented recently by students of Shri Ram Centre was remarkable for perceptive direction and impressive performances.



SHAKESPEARE AGAIN A scene from "Romeo and Juliet".

William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" presented by the second year acting course students of Shri Ram Centre in Atul Tiwari's Hindi translation at SRC's auditorium this past week was engrossing. It was remarkable for perceptive direction and impressive performances, highlighting the fact that there is no place for true love in a world afflicted by hatred and senseless violence.

The play is designed and directed by Himanshu B. Joshi whose art bears the stamp of persistency in carrying out experiments, deep study of dramatic art and technical aspects of the theatre with a view to invent his own idiom. Having worked at the National School of Drama in various specialities, he has served as a technical expert in leading organisations. He was with the German group, Theatre Triebwerk, during the German Festival in India (2000-01) and went to Japan to participate in the `Theatre of Provocation: South Asian Drama' as a designer for the play "Island of Blood" directed by Abhilash Pillai.

Described as Shakespeare's tragedy of "the arduous and errors of impetuous youth", the "Romeo and Juliet" is frequently performed in different styles on the Hindi stage. The production under review reveals Himanshu's approach to a classic which projects rich gallery of immortal characters who die for the sake of their love, leaving behind their parents bitter and full of remorse. He does not treat it as a museum piece. Nor he designs his sets and costumes to create a period drama. The focus is on performers rather than on stagecraft and properties. As far as acting is concerned, his cast of students follow contemporary style. To impart a contemporary ring to the production, he has created characters like cameraman and television reporter in place of chorus to convey the tragedy of senseless violence caused by family feuds which create a kind of immediacy between the performers and the audience.

Full of imagination

Similarly, Himanshu's sets are designed with imagination. Various locals for the action-street, balcony, tomb, house of Friar Laurence who arranges the marriage of Romeo and Juliet in secret are originally integrated. As Romeo tries to reach to Juliet in the balcony, he has to cross a number of ropes. In fact, the whole sequence is artistically conceived which takes the form of a metaphor to reflect the youthful spirit of lovers, their impetuosity, and their defiance of a world full of hatred. The comic relief created by bawdiness of the servants and the nurse are aptly brought to the fore.

Earlier, Himanshu had taken liberty to change structure and use diverse elements ranging from classical to folk in his recent work entitled "Khoj" but in "Romeo and Juliet" he remains faithful to the script and its poetic imagery. Saundy's music and offstage sounds are used effectively to reinforce the tragic mood. Rohit Dhyani as Romeo acts admirably, revealing the deep love of his character for Juliet and his readiness for self-sacrifice for the sake of his true love. Babita Kurdiya's Juliet is shy, an embodiment of feminine grace and daring enough to embrace death. One of the aptly cast performers is Charu Madan who plays the role of Dai Maa (nurse) who loves Juliet from the bottom of her heart and is her sincere friend.

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