SHAKESPEARE A Midsummer Night's

Dream Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 4—Sat 7 Feb.

Scoffrng a kebab err route to the taxr rank is part of the Great British Saturday night these days A srmplrstrc cxample of cuiturai diversity maybe, but one which latrrrder Verma, director of Tara Arts, uses to illustrate the ways rn which 'our' rultures bleed rnto one another’ And it rs thrs rich cultural tapestry whit h the London-based Asran theatre tompany explores and celebrates in its prorluctron of A Mrds‘urrr/ner Night's Dream

'lt rs a profound and rriagrcal play on the corrierly of life,’ says Verma, who in 1990 herarrre the first Asran director to be rnvrterl to stage a play at the Royal National Theatre 'ln this prr‘rductron we're errrphasrsing transformatron the fantasy of metamorphnsrng into another being which is part of human history' Comparing this transformation to the experience of rtrirrr'ants across the globe, Verrrra also points to the rmportanw of fantasy and escape as symholrserl hy the forest setting for the action in today’s nr :easrngly fractured sot rety

Established in 1977, Tara has surpassed rts nrrrrrnal goal of givrno a VOICE? to the Asran cornrriunrty Havrnc; earned recognition for its innovative approath, Tara rnrerts a rlrstrrrctly exotrc flavour into the play, rnrxrnr; and rnatchrng the realrstrt, text-based tradrtron of British theatre With more

vrsual, spiritual elements of classrcal Indian drama. The company uses 'Brnglrsh’, whrch Verma describes as 'the delroous contradiction appearing where modern English blends wrth the sounds, colours and tastes of Am and Afrrca.’

Verma stresses the Importance of retaining our own identities Within a wrder geographical context. 'There’s no such thing as a typical British person Everywhere you go, you hear different accents and experience different ways of life. It's part of the Joy of lrvrng in a vrbrant multr-cultural sooety.’ (Claire Prentice)

Ladder control: Vincent Ebrahim as Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream


Edinburgh: Brunton Theatre, Fri 30 Jan—Sat lzl Feb (not Sun).

Davrrl Marl: Thomson has approached hrs artistic directorship of the Brunton With all the ambition of a newly—

i appointed Thane of Cawdor ’We’re i very pleased wrth what’s happened in

the autumn season,’ he says. 'We

started Wrth a theatre which had been closed for two years. That gives you a sense of carte blanche, and the

Looking daggers: Liam Brennan (seen here in Knives In Hens at the Traverse) stars as Macbeth at the Brunton

impetus of a new beginning. There are two ObjeCIIVQS for us. One rs to make the Brunton a place where artists can come and do new and interesting work, and the other IS getting people to attend.’

His new Macbeth promises to realrse both aims. Asked about the play's frequent appearances on theatre schedules, Thomson replres wrth characteristic confidence. 'If you can see The Godfather erght times, you can see this,’ he says. ’The play itself is fantastrc. We’re setting rt in a modern- day context. One of our models is the Bosnian conflict, which threw up characters like General Mrlosavrc, a fighting man who acourres power. The srtuation parallels Macbeth people are dispossessed by war, The wrtches are dispossessed. They're sometimes seen as evrl women who tempt Macbeth from hrs true course, but if we blame the wrtches it’s like a get-out clause for men. Do they cause what happens, or does Macbeth? l thrnk Shakespeare leaves it more open than blaming the women. He isn't didactic; he Just observes Irfe.‘

Neil Dugan, a BBC televrsron drrector, adds an extra drmenSron to the production wrth video footage. 'Television rs rmportant in the production,’ says Thompson. ’lt works, like the news, not as reality but as a representation of reality. Different people see different things rn the frame of televrsron. There’s so much in the play about realrty, masks and apparrtions that it seems to fit the world of the play.’ (Steve Cramer)

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23 Jan—S Feb 1998 ‘I’IIEU8'I’87