On 7th May, I went to see the Tempest at the Globe. It was my second visit to the Globe - having seen Faust with my father and cousin the year before - but as usual I found myself lost on the banks of the Thames. I eventually stumbled to the venue, ten minutes late, but fortunately I had not missed much. The audience was larger than I expected, brimming with middle-aged, wistful Bangladeshis/Bengalis and younger, theatre-savvy non-Bengali Londoners. I had been hoping to see more Bangladeshis my age, especially in the standing area, but there didn't seem to be too many. Instead, much to my surprise, I happened to run into an old University friend of mine. I had always known about his interest in literature and theatre but was completely taken aback by his decision to come see a Bangla version of the Tempest! I spent half the play translating the dialogue on stage to him and his friends.
The production itself was great fun. It wasn't characterized with mesmerizing acting performances by Prospero or Caliban, as may have been seen if the play was put on by the RSC but it was a much livelier rendition of the play. This article that appeared in the Daily Star describes it well:
What was especially memorable was the comic trio of Caliban, Stefano and Trinculo. Besides their hysterical antics, as the reviewer above pointed out, it was as this point in the play that the audience really became engaged with the performance. My Warwick friend and his companions seemed to be particularly taken by the acting of Prospero as well. During the encore, it was also nice to see the exuberant pleasure of the cast members. One of them, Stefano, ran off stage to get a Bangladesh flag and ran on stage with it. (I have a video of this moment and will upload it soon.) The whole audience cheered and clapped in appreciation, even the non-Bangladeshi theatre-goers! I think it was a particularly heart-warming thing to see considering that most issues relating to the old country have been saddening/horrifying, such as civil unrest over the disappearance of Illias Ali and the earlier murder of a journalist couple.
In the end, it was great to be a spectator at the first Bangla production at Shakespeare's Globe!
Yousuff innovatively blends Shakespeare with the traditional
dance of the Manipuri people to create a captivating style
of storytelling. Photo: Simon Kane