The timeless appeal of the Bard’s play

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Chatting up Isha Pungaliya, who is directing Hamlet for The Drama Queens theatre group. The play will be staged on the weekend

We know Hamlet as hurt, bitter and melancholic; Gertrude (his mother) and Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle who becomes king after his father’s death) thus become the villains. This is the story of Hamlet that we all know — through books, screen adaptations and plays. Now, a city-based group, The Drama Queens is trying to humanise the other characters and take a look at the demons within Hamlet.

“Indian playwrights have produced and directed many plays on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. They have mainly been adapted into other Indian languages or have been contemporised. We have decided to stick to the English text of the play,” explains Isha Pungaliya, who is directing the play for The Drama Queens.

To be staged at Kala Chhaya on February 2, and The Shantaram Pond at FTII on February 3, the play, says Pungaliya, is ‘timeless’. “Our attempt is to not fix the play in a timeframe or make it a ‘period play’. In our eyes, it’s timeless and can be relatable in every era. Like the Bard’s other plays, this too has emotions at its core and emotions are universal,” she adds.

The theatre group, which was started a year ago, is actively doing Shakespearean plays in English because they want to promote English language theatre in the city. “The Marathi experimental theatre in the city has been on a high for a long time now. But we can’t say the same for the English productions. So we are trying to carve an identity by doing classic plays. After Shakespeare, we hope to do productions on Ibsen’s writings. So far, the group has done The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest,” explains Pungaliya, who is also a documentary filmmaker.
Since it’s an amateur theatre group, the cast comprises people from all walks of life — students, professionals, young and old —  with the titular role being played by Vasudev Menon, who founded the group.

“We called for auditions and held readings, both light and intense, with the cast breaking down the text, line by line, and working on the scenes. The entire process started about five months ago,” she said, adding, “We plan to take the play to Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata, where English theatre scene is thriving.”

ST Reader Service
The Drama Queens’ Hamlet will be staged at Kala Chhaya, opp Vikhe Patil School, Patrakar Nagar Road, off Senapati Bapat Road, on February 2 and The Shantaram Pond, FTII, Law College Road, on February 3. On both days, the show will start at 6 pm

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