‘Mahabharata’, by Canada-based Why Not Theatre company, is a visually stunning contemporary retelling of the ancient Sanskrit epic that will have its international premiere in London’s Barbican in early October.
Written and adapted by Co-Artistic Directors Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes, the exuberant stage production brings together an international cast of performers from the South Asian diaspora and incorporates multiple artistic forms including South Indian Carnatic music and operatic notes. The creators say their vision is to celebrate a hybridity of cultures, balancing East and West, traditional and contemporary.
Ravi Jain, Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Why Not Theatre, said: “I am so proud to represent Canada on the world stage with this epic retelling of the ‘Mahabharata’ that we hope will have as big an impact as Peter Brooke’s adaptation in the 1980s.
“When I was a student in London, the Barbican was where I saw the world’s greatest directors on stage. It was the place where I sat at the foot of masters and studied their moves. Twenty-four years later, this is a dream come true and a rare one for Canadian artists to realise.”
The large-scale production is divided into two parts that are bridged by an optional traditional Indian vegan meal and storytelling session entitled ‘Khana & Kahani’. The gripping story of a family feud is explored for its profound philosophical and spiritual ideas under the segments of:
‘Mahabharata: Karma (Part 1) The Life We Inherit’
‘Mahabharata: Dharma (Part 2) The Life We Choose’.
While tickets for the production are available separately, the organisers recommend attending the entire session complete with the storytelling session to “delve deeper into the philosophical riddles of the story”.
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Miriam Fernandes, Co-Artistic Director of Why Not Theatre and cast member, said: “The seed of our ‘Mahabharata’ was planted eight years ago. The piece has grown and been nourished by an international team of artists who have created something that both in form and content truly feels like it spans the world.
“This is a 4,000-year-old story that contains ancient wisdom about empathy, justice, and our relationship to the planet, which feels strikingly relevant today. It is thrilling to launch our ‘Mahabharata’ on the international stage at the Barbican.”
The epic tale of a family feud has been explored as a profound philosophical and spiritual journey to appeal to a whole new audience.
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