400 years of Shakespeare: GCU stages Urdu adaptation of Macbeth

400 years of Shakespeare: GCU stages Urdu adaptation of Macbeth

“I think staging English plays perpetuates a colonial legacy," shares drama teacher, Sameer Ahmed
31 May, 2016

LAHORE: To mark 400 years of Shakespeare, the Government College University’s Dramatics Club staged Raees, an Urdu adaptation of the famous tragedy of the Bard.

Macbeth, staged in 1606 for the first time, is the story of a Scottish general who is prophesied to becoming a king. Macbeth fulfills the prophecy by murdering the king at his wife’s prodding. One crime leads to another and plot thickens with the guilt-ridden Macbeth, leading to his tragedy.

“Shakespeare is for all ages and all races and his plays can be staged in any setting or regional language. In 2010, BBC broadcast a modern version of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart playing the lead character wearing a fascist military uniform and carrying a Kalashnikov. When you modernise Shakespeare with experiments like that it makes a Shakespeare performance more amenable to a modern audience,” said GCU’s drama teacher Sameer Ahmed.

“I think staging English plays perpetuates a colonial legacy. The English brought their theatre here to educate us in western cultural traditions. We had our nautanki theatre before the English came. But we forgot all about it. Theatre has to be indigenous and it has to be in local languages,” he added.

The script was translated by Syed Qasim Mehmood. The play was directed by Dr Salman Bhatti who was assisted by Sameer Ahmed and Dr Atif Yaqub. The actors included Talha Akhter Taban Tazmin, Abubakr Arshad, Jabin, Mariam Naqvi, Aisha Rauf, Hamza Ghayur Akhter, Mehran Potter, Momin Khalid and Ahmed.

“Theatres all over the world are celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare. We wanted to participate by bringing Shakespeare to Pakistan. We had to make the Bard comprehensible to our audience. For that we had to localise the play, to transform it into our cultural idiom,” said director Salman Bhatti.

The three-day performance was also attended by actor Firdous Jamal, Mirza Ather Baig and Madiha Gauhar.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2016


Ahmed May 31, 2016 12:47pm
Why not perform Kalidasa's dramas or Mahabharata with Urdu touch. We are more connected (in ever aspect) to Indians and Indian culture than any land in this world.
Ahmar Qureshi Jun 06, 2016 10:55am
Nice event, Coriolanus should also be staged the same way! Ralph Fiennes played that well! He really knows how to play Shakespeare.