The Tempest – St. Stephens’ College – Shakesoc.

The first time I read Shakepeare, was in school (understanding the literature took over my creative imagination). When Arunabha (shubho) sent me his script for this play, I took a day to unlearn the burdening context of the past and started scribbling on pieces of tissue paper. The next day, I made an excuse in college, booked a ticket to delhi, and kept drawing all along the way.

I wasn’t sure if my scribbles on various different sheets of paper would convince shubho. I was introduced to all the possibilities and constraints that the venue offered in the first half n hour of reaching the college auditorium. Then, I sat through a rehearsal. And then, I drew some more. Shubho had made it very clear, that, the stage and the actor’s dimensions were incapable of having moving sets for every act. So we decided to divide the stage and viewing space of the auditorium into three zones. The central set changed with the lighting, to the left was the cave, where the entry was basically, by jumping from under the stage on to the stage; to the right was the king’s palace, made by the wooden steps of the auditorium.

I took the ‘Indian Adaptation’ bit of the whole project very seriously. Keeping the strict budget and time in mind, I went ahead, and bought bamboo and jute and some brown paint. The in-house carpenters helped me take out old wooden platforms from the auditorium basement, and erected the framework to place the background jute on. I got the central ladder, and together we created a smaller platform (another entrance mainly used by the pixie) on top of the central ladder. The platform on top, rested on the ladder and the bamboo framework at the back. The bamboo pieces stuck on the walls, are used to take dead bodies to the cremation grounds as their everyday function. I used them to create a continuous pattern that would visually link the entire set, which, otherwise, was in three different pieces.

The fabric in the central part of the set, are my old curtains, that I tore up and stitched at regular intervals to make a web-like-installation. During the first act, when the ship is wrecked in the storm, the movement of the fabric and the lighting aided beautifully to the play.

I would, like to, mention, Rudy’s lighting here. I learnt an important lesson the day the lights were rigged and focussed on the stage. My imagination was incomplete without lights. Together, the sets and lights, made my first attempt at set design a truly magical experience.

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