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TOPIC: Indian Influences

Indian Influences 10 months 3 weeks ago #7382

  • Agnese B.
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Hello to all!
I recently saw the Globe Theatre producion of MNsD directed by Emma Rice.
The play is heavily infused with Bollywood and Indian culture influences and references (costumes, colours, music...).
I must say I loved it, but as I'm not an expert on this comedy, though I know India is mentioned in MNsD more than in any other Shakespearean work, I was wondering if it really would require such an exotic environment. What do you think about this choice? Are the Indian mentions so important for the play to justify such setting? And do you know if Indian culture was actually that important in Shakespeare's times to make him want to write about/refere to it?
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Indian Influences 10 months 3 weeks ago #7383

  • Steve Minkin
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My reading group recently did Two Noble Kinsmen, and discovered that it is set during the preparations for the same wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta that The Dream is built around!

I think the Indian themes in The Dream are limited to the changeling boy, aren't they? So I don't think the play itself necessarily suggests an Indian setting. But it sounds to me like a promising premise for an original production! The fairy world gives the play a heightened sense of exoticism to begin with, the rude mechanicals could certainly be set in any culture.

Heck . . . I love both Bollywood and The Dream -- I'd go out of my way to see this production!
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Indian Influences 10 months 3 weeks ago #7384

  • Ron Severdia
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India is mentioned in MSND more than any other work, but it's only in one scene (2.1), so it isn't much.

www.playshakespeare.com/power-search?q=india

Titania knew the Indian boy's mother (a servant of hers) and swore to raise him when the mother died. Titania is the only one who has first-hand experience with Indian culture, so I think it's a but flimsy to extend that into an overarching theme for the whole play. The Indian boy is at the center of the conflict between Oberon and Titania *because* of how exotic he his and they both want him as a follower. In my opinion, I think the boy becomes less exotic if an Indian theme is pervasive in the play. Titania might have souvenirs or possibly even a piece of jewelry that she got in India, but that's probably the logical extent.

Indian culture was very exotic for Elizabethans. So this was a great theatrical device to "transport" audiences of the day to faraway lands. Also, "Indian" could have meant someone who had dark hair and/or complexion—not necessarily from India.
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