By Poorvi Gupta
India is a cultural hub. Hinduism is the oldest religion in the history. Time and again, Hindu mythology has surprised and mesmerised people all over the world. Yet again, in the world’s most prestigious art festival, the Edinburgh Fringe our own Shakuntala was presented in the form of an amalgamation of the east and the west.
Hitting the stage hard and fast, Shakuntala was modernised in a hard rock opera form that left the entire place in awe. The folk tale, told by the renowned poet Kalidasa, was presented by the students of the Gems Modern Academy, Dubai and it was them who gave the tale a much needed refreshing twist of a rock opera.
Traditionally, Kalidasa wrote Abhijyanamshakuntala which depicts the story of Shakuntala, a forest maiden, with whom the king of lands, Dushyanta falls in love. Later, she becomes his wife and the mother of Emperor Bharata. This story is also included in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.
“Unforeseen circumstances and dramatic twists are laced with dreams and hope when the king of the land falls in love with a maiden from the forests. The opera unfolds through song, dance, mime and visual effects,” said the Fringe in a report by TOI.
The Opera ran for 50-minutes in the festival. It was directed, scripted and choreographed by Kevin Oliver who appointed 35 high-schoolers to perform the play which had pop and rap compositions. The lead role of Shakuntala was beautifully played by 16-year-old Akshatha Achar.
‘Wacky’ and ‘dark’ were the terms that the play director, Oliver, used for the play’s adaptation.
The previous year’s art festival had an adaptation of the heartbreaking Nirbhaya Gangrape of Delhi. It was presented by the multiple award-winning South African theatre director and playwright, who has also been acclaimed internationally for his work, Yael Farber. The play won all the awards last year.
Picture credit- TOI