Photo Flash: The University of Hawaii Presents A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S BOLLYWOOD DREAM
The University of Hawai'i at M?noa's Department of Theatre and Dance presents A Midsummer Night's Bollywood Dream on February 1, 2, 8, and 9, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. and February 10, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. on the Kennedy Theatre mainstage. Shakespeare's most popular comedy meets the high-energy song and dance of Bollywood as magic rules the forest and the mischievous creatures play havoc with everyone's love life. The play is co-directed by UHM Professor, Paul Mitri, and Dr. Sai Bhatawadekar, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for South Asian Studies. Original music and lyrics are composed by Ike Webster and Bhatawadekar, who is also the production's dance choreographer. Free pre-show chats will take place at 6:45 p.m. preceding the performances on February 2 and 9. February 2 is also the "Throwback Saturday" performance featuring prices from the "good old days" of $5-$15. Regularly priced tickets are $8-$25.
Shakespeare's works have been a source of inspiration for Hindi films for decades. Adaptations of plots from Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo & Juliet, A Comedy of Errors, and others have shown in cinemas in India for more than fifty years, ranging from Indie films to Bollywood blockbusters.
Mitri sums up the plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream with a quote from the play, "The course of true love never did run smooth." "The statement couldn't be more perfect for Bollywood love stories," adds Bhatawadekar, "In both A Midsummer Night's Dream and Bollywood films, fantasy and reality exist in the same space."
The play opens with pre-wedding music and dance festivities for Ashish (Theseus) and Lalita (Hippolyta), when Ajit (Egeus), bursts in to complain that his daughter Hema (Hermia) is in love with Sikandar (Lysander), despite the fact that she is arranged to be married to Amarpreet (Demetrius). Compelled by their true love, Hema and Sikandar plan to run off into the woods and marry secretly. They divulge their plan to Hema's friend, Leena (Helena), who tells Amarpreet so she can win his favor and love. Meanwhile, a band of amateur actors, workers in the mansion, who are planning to present a play as entertainment for Ashish and Lalita's wedding, meet in the woods to rehearse their show. In the woods, fairies dance up a storm as the fairy queen, Tarana (Titania), and the fairy king, Abhimaan (Oberon), feud and fight. In order to play a prank on his wife, Abhimaan requests that the mischievous creatures, Bak-Bak (Puck), played by two actors, find a magical flower that will make anyone fall in love with the first thing they see. Chaos ensues as Bak-Bak, played by the pair, wreak havoc on all those wandering in the forest - the lovers, the actors, and Tarana.
UHM's Department of Theatre and Dance's Asian Theatre and Western Theatre programs are collaborating on this show. "Each of our programs are trying to find new ways to work together to show students the limitless possibilities theatre provides. It does not have to be just Western performance, or just Asian performance; it can be both together," states Mitri, who is no stranger to cross-cultural productions of Shakespeare's works. Among his projects, he has directed: Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream set and performed in Japan; A Comedy of Errors, performed in Egypt and set in an imaginary Arabic nation; and, Macbeth at UHM Kennedy Theatre set in a multi-cultural post-apocalyptic world.
Bhatawadekar is no stranger to cross-cultural studies in many disciplines. Her research areas include film adaptations of literature, cross-cultural comparative philosophy, world literature, and performance based pedagogy. In all these areas she explores South Asian presence in global dynamics. In addition, she is a singer, choreographer and dancer of Indian Folk and Bollywood traditions. She co-founded a community Bollywood dance group, Aaja Nachle Hawai'i that has offered performances, workshops and free dance lessons since 2012. A collaborator with the annual Bollywood Film Festival at the Honolulu Museum of Art, she is also a Bollywood dance instructor for the UHM Dance Program, and can be seen performing with her dance students at cultural and educational events. Her classes at UH are very popular with the students. This production is an opportunity to bring the theatre and dance students together and showcase their skills on the Kennedy Theatre mainstage in a live theatrical production.
According to Bhatawadekar, "Cross-cultural productions are always challenging and exhilarating, as we honor two traditions in themselves and yet bring them together in a creative dialogue." She continues, "There have been some interesting Hindi adaptations of Shakespeare; our production is a unique educational endeavor, as we train with Shakespeare's text, while being self-referential to the 'Bollywood' genre that has captured global audiences since Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995." The show pays homage to Bollywood films and music, and it also features new Hindi songs written by Bhatawadekar incorporating Shakespeare's words set to original music created by Webster and Bhatawadekar. These wedding melodies and magical lullabies, with resounding rhythms and haunting refrains, are choreographed in Bollywood fusion style by Bhatawadekar.
Not only is this production bringing together the Asian Theatre and Western Theatre programs, it is also allowing for the students at UHM to bridge disciplines. A Midsummer Night's Bollywood Dream features a large multi-cultural ensemble made up of undergraduates, graduates, and members of the community. "Multiple degree programs are being represented in this production," says Mitri, "we have students pursuing BA and MFA degrees in theatre and a BA, BFA, and MFA students in dance, a Masters candidate in East Asian Languages and Literatures, a high school student, and more."
Tickets to A Midsummer Night's Bollywood Dream are on sale online at etickethawaii.com, by phone at (808) 944-2697, and at official outlets. Sales at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office begin on Monday, January 28, 2019. Ticket sales at the Box Office are available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with extended hours on show days.