ChandanRoy Sanyal and Yuki Ellias
in A Midsummer Night's Dream
(© Tristram Kenton)
ChandanRoy Sanyal and Yuki Ellias
in A Midsummer Night's Dream
(© Tristram Kenton)
Tim Supple's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which began its North American tour earlier this month at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, is not your father's Shakespeare. For one thing, the show boasts a cast of actors from many parts of India, speaking many different languages -- a choice that might seem like it would further complicate Shakespeare's intricate text. Not so, says Supple: "India is a multi-lingual society, so it seemed totally natural to do the show in a mixture of languages and I find it refreshing and liberating."

Supple's production, which has previously been seen in both England and India, also incorporates a physicality that might seem unexpected. "Indian theater has many profoundly different physical personalities that bring a great variety of expression to this play," says Supple. "These actors have a stronger connection to the body and that alleviates some alienation that the language might have."

But that's not the only reason Supple cast Indian performers. "Shakespeare stands on the cusp between the ancient and modern theater. We mostly look to our Shakespeare performances to illuminate the realist side, but we're not so good at connecting with the ritualistic aspect," he says. "These Indian actors are, because their traditional theater is much more stylized and emblematic than ours."