The Urdu proverb, ‘Dair aye durust aye’ best encapsulates the final show at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) International Theatre Festival. Kasumal Sapno, performed by the Ujjagar Dramatic Association of India, was initially scheduled to take place in the first week of the festival but, owing to a delay in visa issuances to Indian artists, the organisers pushed it to the end of the 25-day event.
An adaptation of Shakespearean romantic-comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Kasumal Sapno follows the adventure of two young couples, Lakshya and Hetal (Ritesh and Sonali Bharadwaj), and Hiral and Devesh (Poornima and Shivam), in an imagination ‘gard’ called Amorgarh in Rajasthan. The play shows an amateur group of actors, preparing a play for the king and queen in the forest, using woodlandkathputlis. To ensure that no other troupe steals their idea of a tragic love story, they decide to rehearse in the forest, the place where the couples meet each other.
Unbeknown to them is that the forest is an enchanted place and, following the instructions of the fairy puppet king, Pyaare (Shahjahan Hasin) gives a magic potion to the fairy queen, as the king wants to punish her by making her fall in love with an animal. But a comedy of errors ensues in the jungle when the couples and the troupe of actors get caught in Pyaare’s spell, with each of them falling in love with the wrong person.
After the show ended, director Ajeet Singh spoke about the reason behind making an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “The more you read and go deeper into the work by Shakespeare, the more you realise that the colour and text he has put into his writing suit Rajasthan perfectly,” he said. He added, “Shakespeare’s play is reflective of the dominant themes of the 17th Century, as he wrote about romance, comedy, royalty and scheming, and this sort of writing appealed to me. My wife suggested I adapt A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as it is evergreen and has been read by many people. I thought if we could showcase our unique style through it, people would enjoy it.”
Commenting on the troupe’s reaction to not being issued visas to travel to Pakistan, he said, “All of us were emotionally attached to this project and performance. We knew that we can travel across the globe and perform anywhere we desire without any political interference, but faced a lot of problems before coming here.” He added, “We were aware that if we don’t avail this opportunity, it would be very difficult for us to come to Pakistan again.”
The Napa festival, which closed on Sunday, April 6, was almost a month-long affair that saw a diverse range of performances by both local and international troupes. The international performers included the Ujjagar Dramatic Association, Being Association and Mahesh Bhatt Group from India, along with productions by British and German directors, Gregory Thompson and Brigel Gjoka respectively.