I was looking forward very much to the Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival this year, and was even happier to note that there would be a curtain-raiser montage of Shakespeare by Evam. Evam, to use a punning phrase, usually has its act together, and I was looking forward to some good pre-entertainment entertainment.
Alas, I do not know who thought of using the entire ground floor space of Ranga Shankara (and the stairs, too) as a stage for the montage. Though the idea was a novel one, and intended to gather in the audience all over, with scenes being played at different locations, all that happened was that most of us could not see several of the scenes, or even hear them, thanks to the usual traffic in front of Ranga Shankara. The acoustics of the ground-floor area are in no way like those of the auditorium above it, and theatre groups who use it would do well to remember this. Also, groups of theatregoers were standing and sitting all around, and they themselves blocked the view for other visitors. So all we got was a mainly incomprehensible mishmash of Shakespeare, some of which we understood, and some of which we tried to. The balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" was the only one that I could hear properly, and relate to. As the theatregoers for the next performance started arriving, the confusion, to use the Bard’s own words, was worse compounded.
S G Vasudev’s specially created painting was also the centre of attraction on the first day. Aru held forth on the confluence of the various fine arts,
It was rather ironic, too, that the sandwiches for the cast and volunteers came, not from Ranga Shankara Cafe, but from Aditya, the eatery opposite the theatre space. This alone should be a signal to Ranga Shankara Cafe. I watched the sandwiches being made in Aditya:
However the plays that were translated into different languages, and were staged on different days, were very good indeed. Of these, I must mention Piya Behrupiya particularly, as an outstanding production.
A new attraction was the bar, which had a very witty name!
Of course, one of the highlights of the opening day’s performance was this board, which all theatre spaces are happy to use:
So it was a good start, all in all, with a festive look and feel, as Shakespeare reigned for a while in our midst, in many tongues (all of which, ironically, were translated back into English subtitles!)