Thanks to a group of theatre enthusiasts, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was enacted yet again on Sunday, February 21st, to huge applause and appreciation, and amid a setting not so different from the Mud Fort — The Bamboo Groves of Cubbon Park.
Surrounded by nature and the chirping of birds, hundreds of Shakespeare aficionados assembled and applauded as the Bard’s play of a journey into a magical forest unfolded; they watched, rapt, as fairy tricksters played games with the mortal hearts of mixed-up lovers — but with a twist. The production was adapted to suit an hour-long performance and offered a queer take on Shakespeare’s famous romantic comedy.
The Bardolators of Bangalore, a group of young, energetic performers, were into their third open-air performance over the course of seven hours. What started in June 2015 with an enactment of Much Ado About Nothing before an audience of about 100 grew to include an enactment of six scenes from various plays in November 2015, with a five-fold increase in audience. Sunday’s performance attracted as many as 1500 people, many of them children.
The Bardolators are extremely talented and know their Shakespeare. The actors behind Hermia and Helena performed their characters exquisitely — especially the former, who declares her undying love for Lysander even as her father warns of dire consequences in Theseus’s court if she doesn’t marry Demetrius. The lovers elope, with Demetrius in pursuit of them and Helena in pursuit of him, until, in the woods, they run into the fairies and the Athenian artist’s team and the comedy begins. The Bardolators, cleverly emoting and exhibiting a mastery of comic timing, successfully captured the humour of the play.
The sets were frugally made with flowers, and bamboo groves and clearings were used for primary and secondary stages. The costumes were artfully assembled and appropriate for the onset of the Indian summer. The acoustics were left to the nature; the performers used their own voices without microphones, and the audience offered support through pin-drop silence. Performers also played musical instruments.
‘We are a bunch of friends, from all walks of life — engineers, designers, a lawyer, even a playwright — in love with the works of Shakespeare and we wanted to do something different,’ said Danish Sheikh, one of the organizers of the event. ‘A lot of rehearsal went into this, and yes, we do have plans to [perform] in indoor spaces in the future, as well.’ He said the park authorities have been very hands-off and the audience very supportive, and the Bardolators look forward to many successful enactments in the future.