William Shakespeare will soon travel to the villages of India when
a leading French repertory company in collaboration with the
Mumbai-based Prithvi Theatre stages his masterpiece "The Tempest"
in a mobile tent.
The 35-year-old Paris-based Footsbarn Company is a travelling tent
theatre troupe. It has announced a two-year theatre exchange
project between India and France, "Dream Project", which will see
the troupe tour India with Shakespeare's "The Tempest" in a
customised tent in 2012.
The troupe is already in Delhi with another production. However,
it will begin rehearsing for "The Tempest" in Portugal, the
cultural capital of Europe, where it has been offered a six-month
"We have started designing the tent for the play. It will be
equipped with an open-on-all- sides circular central stage and
surrounding seats that can accommodate 600 people. The portable
tent, made of cloth, can be carried to far-flung venues," Paddy
Hayter, artistic director of the Footsbarn Company, told IANS in
The troupe is likely to travel to southern India, Maharashtra,
Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
"After the end of the tent tour, the tent will be gifted to India
for future productions," he added.
Tent theatre takes plays out of the proscenium format and closed
theatre houses to the common people in small cities, circus
venues, streets and villages. It is a form of traditional nomadic
theatrical genre prevalent in India as well as Europe.
The genre combines elements of circus, Shakespearean stage
performances, acrobatics and conventional theatre. A dress parade
on the streets, in the style of medieval English and French roots
theatre, announces the arrival of the production company to the
The company uses mask, puppetry and live music in its productions.
While performing, the company camps in gypsy trailers around the
tent in remote locations for days. The company, which has been
visiting India since the mid-1990s, has performed at the Globe
Theatre in London.
Hayter, who is leading the 15-member repertory company in India
with his wife Fredericka, will stage Victor Hugo's "The Man Who
Laughs" Nov 16 at the Baha'i House of Worship, Lotus Temple,
The play, set in the England of 1690, will be presented by
Sanjana Kapoor of Prithvi Theatre is helping the Footsbarn Company
design the tent along with designer Fredericka and her son, a
designer at the Globe theatre from London.
The theatre company has also moved to the National School of Drama
(NSD) to liaise with regional and local theatre companies for
"With four extensive national tours, workshops and two
productions, including local artists from Kerala behind us, the
time has come to tour India in a tent," Hayter said.
In 1994, the company had collaborated with local artists of four
Kerala drama companies for "Odyssey".
"We had improvised on the play for 12 days in Thiruvananthapuram
with members from four troupes after which we staged the play to
an overwhelming response. In March 1995, five artists were chosen
from Kerala to tour Europe with the company," Hayter recalled.
The same year, Footsbarn toured Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata and New Delhi
with "Romeo and Juliet" in collaboration with Prithvi Theatre in
"At a time when theatre is becoming contemporary with special
effects around the world, we prefer to cling to the roots and
people, to make it a live art," Hayter said.
Tent drama is common in northeastern India, specially Assam where
troupes like the Kohinoor mobile theatre carry their productions
across the state in tents. A play like "The Titanic" has achieved
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