Marking legendary British playwright William Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary, the British Council, in collaboration with Dhaka Theatre and Graeae Theatre Company (UK), is going to organize a 75-minute play titled ‘A Different Romeo and Juliet’. The organization announced production of the play in a Press Conference held at the British High Commissioner’s residence on Sunday 20 March 2016 at 10.30 am.
The production is going to be truly unique in a way that, it will be performed in its entirety by 14 highly talented artists with disability. It was led by Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company in collaboration with Dhaka Theatre’s Nasiruddin Yousuff, renowned Bangladeshi director. The play will be premiered at the National Theatre Hall, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on 28 March 2016.
Alison Blake, Honourable British High Commissioner; Matt Pusey, Deputy Director, British Council; Jenny Sealey, Creative Director, Graeae Theatre Company, Nasiruddin Yousuff, Head, Dhaka Theatre; and Liaquat Ali Lucky, Director, Shilpakala Academy were present in the Press Conference as Panel Members.
‘The UK’s greatest author William Shakespeare’s ensured his writings were accessible by all. I am delighted that the British Council Bangladesh’s version of one of his great works titled as ‘A different Romeo and Juliet’ takes this a step further to celebrate the Bard’s 400th anniversary. In this special year of an ‘Inclusive Commonwealth’, the performance by disabled Bangladeshi actors is an example of inclusivity and demonstrates that no-one should be left behind regardless of their ability. I hope this production inspires others to take part not only in the arts but other disciplines.’ said Alison Blake.
“Shakespeare Lives is the British Council’s global cultural programme in 2016. It is about sparking cultural exchange through the shared language of Shakespeare. One of our major initiatives in Bangladesh is A Different Romeo and Juliet, an inspirational theatre production with a group of talented artists who are differently abled. We hope this play will contribute in changing people’s perceptions of life, and the right to love and be loved,” said Matt Pusey.
The British Council initiated this project in 2013 with an aim to empower people with disabilities by facilitating social inclusion through theatre workshops that helped them explore their identity and infused an enriched sense of self-worth. This has now led to a new Shakespeare production of Romeo and Juliet in 2016, to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright.
The artists are drawn from Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP-Bangladesh), Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Bangladesh Reform Initiatives for Development, Governance and Empowerment (BRIDGE) and Gram Theatre.
The play will be performed in front of the general public comprising of a targeted audience of policy makers, organisations and other stakeholders working with people with disabilities, special needs schools and the average theatre lovers during 28 and 29 March 2016.
The British Council intends to establish a legacy of this ambitious project. They plan to do a five city national tour following the Dhaka performance, a nationwide TV viewing, documentary about the journey screened for an international audience at festivals to name a few. This project has the potential to reach more than 50 million people nationally and internationally.