Footsbarn Theatre has been around for 43 years, and has been touring the world for 41 of those with its plays and performances. The touring theatre company, which has so far produced 60 plays, is in India with a new production—and this one has Indian elements.
Created in collaboration with Abhinaya Theatre from Kerala, Indian Tempest is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The play blends Footsbarn’s circus skills, mime, colourful props and puppets with Abhinaya’s Indian music and dance. “It seemed appropriate to have a bit of Kerala in a play that is set by the sea,” says Paddy Hayter, artistic director of the company.
Indian Tempest is a trilingual play that makes use of English, Malayalam and Sanskrit. “As a theatre company, we first started in England before we started moving around the world. That taught us that our plays need to express less through words and more through our bodies and actions,” says Hayter, who has been travelling with the troupe for 41 years. In the 1970s and 1980s, Footsbarn travelled around Europe with its plays, stage, props, tents and even a school for the children in the entourage. “That was until 1989, when we settled in Auvergne, in La Chaussée, France,” says Hayter.
In La Chaussée, Footsbarn has studios, workshops, costume stores and everything else that an established theatre company requires. “Though we are based there now, we travel often and only stay in France when writing and producing a new production,” says Hayter.
Footsbarn has travelled to India with its productions four times in the past. “We initially wanted to bring our stage and tent to India, but couldn’t financially afford the logistics,” says Hayter of the troupe’s movable circular stage, 26m in diameter. “That way, even if the audience is 600 people large, each person is not more than a few feet away,” he smiles. But the theatre company will come back again with its tents and stage in tow, he promises. Eighteen of the 20 members of Footsbarn are in Bangalore. Five members of the cast are from Footsbarn, while the other five are from Abhinaya.
With a distinct Kerala flavour, the play revisits Shakespeare’s play, set on an imaginary island. Chandran Veyattummal, one of three music composers, says it didn’t take much to blend Indian music with Footsbarn’s style. “We use a variety of Indian instruments like the sitar, tabla and harmonium,” says Veyattummal, adding that all the musicians are a part of the play.
Indian Tempest is on at 7.30pm, today and 6 February, at Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross, II Phase, JP Nagar, Bangalore. Tickets, Rs.200, available at www.bookmyshow.com. The show will also travel to Nanded University Auditorium, Nanded, Maharashtra, on 9 February; Gachibowli University Campus, Hyderabad, on 13 February, and Ravindra Bharathi auditorium, Hyderabad, on 16 February. Click here for details.