A new stage adaptation of the ancient Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ was in the works. Now a new contemporary retelling of the Mahabharata opens in London on Sunday, incorporating a range of Indian music and dance forms and bringing together artists from around the world. The UK premiere of the musical will run at the Barbican Theater next weekend. It follows the critically acclaimed world premiere in Canada by Toronto-based Why Not Theater and Indian-origin co-producers Miriam Fernandes and Ravi.
The story of Karma and Dharma
The story of Karma and Dharma is presented in two parts, narrated by storyteller Maryam Fernandes. The first part ‘Karma’ deals with the rival Pandava and Kaurava clans. This is the original story. The second part is based on ‘Dharma’ i.e. how war destroys the planet and the survivors are left to rebuild.
The story will begin with Bhishma’s pledge
Speaking on the presentation of Mahabharata, Fernandes, co-artistic director of Why Not Theatre, said that the two parts correspond to a community meal, called food and story. So, if you do the full experience it is a seven-hour journey and we start at the beginning of the story with Bhishma’s vow that we will keep fighting until Yudhishthira goes to heaven. They are a small group from a great lineage of storytellers who have woven this epic of Mahabharata through the ages. These stories have been passed down from storyteller to audience for thousands of years and are spread across the earth.
- Advertisement -
Special part of Bhagwat Geeta
He said it was first composed in ancient times, but the themes of greed, revenge, ecocide and privilege seem extremely appropriate in our world. Nearly 40 years after Peter Brook’s famous international production of the great Sanskrit epic. Why Not Theatre’s adaptation also explores the act of storytelling. There is also a new opera based on the epic’s most revered part. The Bhagavad Gita, in which a live onstage band creates a musical score accompanied by traditional instruments such as Lord Krishna’s favorite flute.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about how to make it contemporary, especially when values have changed so drastically and cultural values clash,” said Jain, founder of Why Not Theater & Company. Canadian culture is very different from Indian culture. One of the ways we addressed this issue was that we were really conscious about our casting. Having women play some of the men’s roles. So the women themselves were in the story a lot more than they were traditionally portrayed. Get it in a different way. The casting is really exciting.