Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tales of the bard

Works of Shakespeare came alive via a theatre workshop – Bringing Home the Bard held at British Library last month. Facilitators Shivani Karhadkar & Saket Raje spoke about it. 

William Shakespeare is a name commanding utmost respect in world of English Literature, but the young especially have truly not got the gist of his genius. The British Library made sure youngsters between 12-20 age group fall in love with The Bard with its theatre workshop called Bringing Home the Bard: Works of Shakespeare by Shivani and Saket. Here, the world of Shakespeare was revealed to the young ones and helped them understand him better. It was under the guidance of Shivani Karhadkar, a theatre facilitator and Saket Raje, a theatre teacher.  

What made you take up the topic of introducing Shakespeare to the youngsters?
Saket Raje: I recently attended workshop at Adhishakti, Pondicherry, organised by Royal Shakespeare Company and British Council named ‘Bring home the bard’. The idea was to make William Shakespeare’s text simple for students and interpreting his text. We learned new techniques of handling Shakespeare’s plays and working on staging of these plays in different forms. The second motto was to conduct such workshops across India. I think youngsters are more open-minded and if they are aimed at the this age, then it will be more simpler for them to understand Shakespeare.
Shivani Karhadkar: I have been an avid fan of Shakespeare since an early age. However, I had a fear of presenting this archival language. But when I attended the workshop by Royal Shakespeare Company, it showed me ways that I could present the works without making it difficult. It was then I realised I could remove the same fear from the minds of youngsters and make them feel comfortable with his works. We tried to introduce the works to the children in a manner that makes it totally interaction-oriented and lively for youngsters.

Why do people thing reading Shakespeare is tough?
Saket: People tend to focus in a negative way, only towards the language aspect of the literature. The performance part is completely ignored. If this notion is addressed systematical and people’s misconceptions are clarified, then there is higher probability of people enjoying his plays. 
Shivani: Shakespeare wrote in the archival language. And that language is certainly difficult to grasp in a single reading. He often wrote his works as poetry. We have so little time nowadays and the reading habit is so rare, that Shakespeare is certainly difficult for most. In some cases, I think it’s a prejudice that has taken root in many minds. 

How did the pairing up happen?
Shivani: Saket and I have been co-actors and colleagues for the past four years. We have also attended the Royal Shakespeare Company workshop together. We have also done a lot of productions together for Mystique Studio of arts. 
Saket: We have staged many plays together and have also achieved many state & national prizes. Some of our recent productions were Mirad A boy from Bosnia, Macbeth, Ajacha Baki Itihas, At the Ark at Eight.

Your personal favourite Shakespearean work?
Saket: I cannot chose one play, as Shakespeare has written many plays under different genres. It will be a never ending list of plays - Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Othello, Twelfth night, Julius Cesar and so on.
Shivani:   Each & every work of the Bard is unique and wondrous. I recently directed a production of Macbeth, and it  was an eye-opener. Every word or line has something to share. I have many favourites like As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew... the list in unending. 

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