Much Fun Was Had at British Council’s #ShakespeareLives but My Heart was Won Over by Puck’s Farewell Speech!

So, I got to go to the British Council’s event that was a part of their initiative known as Shakespeare Lives. From what I understood, Shakespeare Lives is based on an attempt to re-imagine the Bard’s works for a modern audience. To that end, they chosen emerging artists from UK and had them reinterpret a play. What I found to be even more effective, than choosing people who the younger generation would identify with, was limiting each interpretation to under 4 minutes or so. After all, asking people to focus on most things for much longer than this is a bad idea these days.

Even though, I haven’t read a lot of the plays, I enjoyed the evening.They started with a discussion on all things Shakespeare and it was entertaining to listen to. Before the event, while I had known that no manuscript written by the playwright himself had ever been found, I had never thought about its implications. An obvious effect would be that whoever compiled the plays for a particular version would undoubtedly leave their own  The triumvirate panel expounded upon how this meant that no two manuscripts would be completely identical.

We were shown four clips of the re-imagined works during the session:




Inspired by The Tempest, this clip focuses on there being quite a few missing mothers within Shakespeare’s plays. The mother in this clip died before she could watch her daughter grow up.


This clip is loosely based on the play, Hamlet. The events in this one were presented in a comical way with a bawdy joke slyly hinted at in the clip. Needless to say, I loved it!




Based on Julius Caesar, parts of this clip were shot in the Foreign office. There was a sense of urgency and premonition in it that reminded me of the movie, Equilibrium.

Anjana Vasan’s original composition shown in this clip was inspired by As You Like It. Out of all the clips shown, this triptych was my favorite.


Rosemary Hill, one of the people on the panel mentioned that there were more such clips on British Council’s website.

After a brief Q&A, the panelists gave way to actors who would be reciting parts of Shakespeare’s plays but in Urdu! The entourage consisted of four students from NAPA and led by Khalid Ahmad. As soon as I saw him, I knew we were in for a treat. I was right! They kicked off the recital with the first scene of the first act from King Lear. I was amazed at how good they all were. But, the actor who played the role of the Lear’s illegitimate child stole my heart with his foul-mouthed performance! The other performance was based on the opening act from A Midsummer Night’s Dream , which was done well, too.

The recital ended on Puck’s monologue from the play presented by the same actor who had played Lear’s bastard. His lively performance stole my heart once again!


Stanley Tucci‘s Puck from the movie adaptation

More information on Shakespeare Lives.

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