Monday, March 19, 2007

Shakespearana -wallah

Back in the old Bishops' School days in Poona, India*
I always looked forward to visits from the British Council -
sponsored Shakespearana troupe led by the legendary
Geoffrey Kendal and his wife Laura. After our lunch break
all the boys of this all-male bastion would sit on the floor of the
school Assembly Hall and be whisked away for a few hours into
a world of
old Bill's making. Time restraints did not permit
the dramatization of a complete play, but this only enhanced our
Shakespearan awareness since we were treated to enormous
slices from the vast output of
the Bard of Avon.

Many years later I watched
Shashi Kapoor** star in the first
film (IMDB link) Shakespeare-wallah
and realized that I had just seen a film based on real-life
characters from my school days. The Kendal daughters were
Jennifer and Felicity, who were to become BBC TV favorites of
mine in later years having already won my schoolboy admiration
for them in
A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice,
Macbeth, et al.

Which brings me many decades later (yes, I am that old) to the
BBC's Vincent Dowd who says that Shakespeare would be impressed
with a South Asian version of '
A Midsummer Night's Dream'

India Shakespeare play tours UK

*I am not alone in these recollections.
Deepak Sikand, Class of ’66-67 from Mayo College , New Delhi
: 'We would be taken to the Central Mess to watch the
Kendall family’s
Shakespearana’ perform short pieces from the Bard’s plays.
the young bachelor Shashi Kapoor kissing the beautiful Jenifer Kendall
on stage?
Those of you who went on to do your Senior Cambridge subsequently
were lucky
to do your Shakespearean play in your syllabus conducted by Jack.
I got to know all my Shakespeare, thanks to these plays.'

** Shashi KapoorInterviewed in 2005 by Poona's Deccan Herald

1 comment:

  1. An interesting side note : A Bishops' boy whose name evades me used to do stand-ins when the Shakespearana troupe played at our school, and eventually he joined them. I think his name was Alfy.