A theatrical event like no other, Tim Suppleís Dream combines the astonishing skills of 23 actors, dancers, martial arts experts, musicians and street acrobats from across India and Sri Lanka. This bold, revelatory production caused a great sensation in India, and has played to sold-out houses at the Royal Shakespeare Company and across the world.
Performed in a beautiful mix of languages—half in English, half in the seven South Asian languages native to the actors—Dream has been staged here at Chicago Shakespeare without simultaneous translation, just as it was originally presented at Englandís Royal Shakespeare Company. Before seeing the show, we invite you to familiarize yourself with the story so that you can relax and enjoy the beauty of this production. Learn more
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (includes intermission)
A Midsummer Night's Dream is presented in the Jentes Family Auditorium.
Two years in the making, A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Tim Supple, is performed in eight languages: approximately half the text is in English, with the other half translated into seven South Asian languages: Tamil, Malayalam, Sinhalese, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Sanskrit. With the exception of director Tim Supple, the design and production team and the entire cast of 23 performers are Indian and Sri Lankan. The cast combines actors trained in classical and folk traditions, and the production includes live traditional music, folk performers, traditional dancers, martial arts experts and street acrobats from across India and Sri Lanka.
Supple immersed himself in Indian folk tales, the writings of modern Indian poets and stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. In January 2005 he traveled to Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai to see the work of a myriad of performance artists. In casting the production, Supple wanted to defy the rigid stereotypes of India's caste system. The actor he chose to play Oberon and Theseus, for example, spoke in Malayalam but not in Hindi, the language of the upper class, but he brought with him an understanding of chant and magical rituals. The actors' printed profiles in the program all begin unexpectedly: "Demetrius, Performance languages: Sinhala, English; Lysander, Performance languages: Bengali, English; Egeus, Performance language: Tamil." The lines to be spoken in the languages of the Subcontinent were translated, prose as prose and verse into verse. In rehearsal, Supple and his cast discussed both the original and translated texts so that the actors' performances could be informed by both.
This production has been called as "inclusive, as diverse, as vibrant as the world itself." There is a simplicity to its exquisite physical design: the red earth of India, rope, muslin, thatch and branches, and ribbons of red silk hanging from the rigging above like trees into which the actors can climb, hide and curl up to sleep. The theater critic from The Telegraph noted that "The aerial work on ropes and bolts of scarlet fabric ensures that the production is never earthbound." The production is accompanied by drums and haunting interludes of flutes, pipes and strings.
A Scholarís Perspective by Ananda Lal
Ananda Lal is Professor of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. He served as the dramaturg for the production in India and wrote a series of articles about the work and the artists.
A Brief History of the Play and Its Sources
In 2004, Director Tim Supple was commissioned by the British Council to create a show for India, a remarkably diverse country of 1.1 billion people.
The Dream on Stage
Visit the official website of the Indian Midsummer, with images, videos and more information about the production.