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Theatre company contemporises Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015,15:38 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | A reimagined contemporary rendition of William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, Twelfth Night by London’s Filter Theatre will be staged across eight Indian cities, with its debut performance today at British Council here.

The play has been radically cut to appeal to the 21st century audience and includes a rock gig interacting with the sound, music, text and movement, giving the production a fresh and unconventional approach, and making Shakespeare more accessible. We cut many lines inside the play lines that were little bit harder to explain to a contemporary audience. We have a lot of sound design, music and composition, but we managed to keep the meat of it, the real narrative of the heart of Shakespeare’s play, says Oliver Dimsdale, the artistic director of the play.

For him, Shakespeare’s words may be sanctum sanctorum, but he has experimented with the stage presence, making it very casual and intimate for the viewers. We tried not to go too far off the text, so that what you hear will be more or less exactly Shakespeare’s words. But we decided to do it with a rehearsal room static, that’s to say with just the musical instruments, equipments, actors and a single costume, Dimsdale says.

Dimsdale, who had directed the first draft of the play for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London at least a decade ago, refrains from using Elizabethan costumes for any of his characters, except the one of Sir Toby Belch. While 10 years ago, the reason for lack of costumes might have been a tight budget, lack of money has worked for us it seems, he quips.

Dimsdale had played the part of Sir Toby Belch in the initial versions of the play, but Mountview-trained Dan Poole plays the character in the current shows. Another interesting characteristic of Filter Theatre’s production is that all actors are on the stage at all points of time, albeit their purpose changes constantly.