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A dream come true

G.S. PAUL

A multi-lingual cast will stage `Midsummer Night's Dream' in connection with Royal Shakespeare Company's mega fete, `International Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival.'



LANGUAGE NO BAR: The multilingual cast uses eight Indian languages in this version of `A Midsummer Night's Dream.'

Malayalam verses will echo in the famous Swan Theatre in Stratford, United Kingdom (U.K.) for the first time when the play `A Midsummer Night's Dream' is staged there as part of Royal Shakespeare Company's (RSC) mega fete called `International Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival' in June this year. And the privilege of reciting the Malayalam verses will go to Jijoy, an alumnus of the School of Drama, Thrissur.

The festival is a unique event in world theatre as it plans to visualise the 37 plays, sonnets and long poems of Shakespeare and stage them at various places around the world. Countries with a strong tradition of theatre have been involved in this project. India and Sri Lanka together will present a two-and-a-half-hour production of `A Midsummer Night's Dream.'

The play is directed by Tim Supple, a leading story-teller in British theatre. Supple is well known for breathing new life into familiar stories. Worth mentioning in this connection are his Channel Four production of `Twelfth Night' and Salman Rushdie's `Midnight's Children.'

Rigorous selection process

Jijoy appeared exuberant after successfully completing the rehearsals in Pondichery. The 45-day rehearsals were under the supervision of Supple. Jijoy had every reason to rejoice as he was able to clear the cumbersome and rigorous selection processes that went on for almost eight months last year.

The lead role

Of the 20 actors, selected from a group of 500 who were invited for two workshops, he was picked to play the lead role of King Theseus in the play.

"Getting selected for Midsummer Night's Dream is like a dream for me," said Jijoy. It gives him the opportunity to travel around the world for performances after the shows in the U.K.

Recalling the tough training in Pondichery, Jijoy said that the exercises were designed to make the body flexible since the play demanded portrayal of various characters, including fairies and labourers. In addition to classical dances like Bharatanatyam and Manipuri, the actors were trained in martial arts like Kalarippayattu, tang-ta and stick fight.

He added, "Tim Supple had an ingenious approach to training methods. The director never wanted his actors to act, but to be truthful to the character." The actors comprise students, professionals and amateurs. Gopalji, the only other artiste selected from Kerala, is an outstanding theatre actor. Each actor dons two roles.

What makes the production unique is that the multilingual cast uses eight Indian languages in the play. The medium is insignificant as the shows are planned to be staged at different places. The emphasis is on the rhyme of the dialogue. As for Jijoy, his dialogue opens in English to be followed in Malayalam, Tamil and Sanskrit.

Jijoy, who is doing his M.Phil at the School of Drama had demonstrated his histrionic talent in the Nineties by winning the best actor award of the Calicut University seven times. He has also acted in films such as `Sivam', `Meghamalhar,' `Niram' and `Goli.'

That the tickets for the shows in the U.K. have been sold out adds to his excitement. The play will be premiered in the four metros in India in April. He's busy preparing for the same.

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