A contemporary dramatic take on a 4,000-year-old Sanskrit epic that is foundational to Indian culture.
Why Not Theatre’s large-scale, once-in-a-generation retelling of Mahabharata brings together a cast of performers entirely from the South Asian diaspora, blending cultures and art forms in a spectacular production at the Shaw Festival and the Barbican Theatre in London. Over two parts (Karma and Dharma) and a communal meal (Khana), this translation and adaptation of Mahabharata spans generations and takes audiences into the hearts and minds of some of the most complex and enduring characters ever created.
With warring families and devious revenge plots, Mahabharata tells the story of an ancient feud with philosophical and spiritual questions that are no less urgent today. In times of division, how do we find wholeness? Are we destined to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors? And how can we build a new world when we have nearly destroyed this one?
Contains the full text of the play along with materials opening up the behind-the-scenes world of the production, including interviews with the creators, background and context about the source material, production photographs, a Mahabharata family tree, and glossary.
“Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes’s contemporary take on the Mahabharata is one of the most beautiful emotional journeys I have had the privilege to witness. It is inspiring, mind broadening, and speaks to all the senses. It even brings you back to the origins of theatre itself, when people would gather in the quarries around a bonfire to tell stories. With their tasteful use of technology, dance, and opera, the 4,000-year-old Sanskrit poem comes to life and feels more universal than ever. A captivating theatre experience, from the first flame to the last pixel.” – Robert Lepage
“In their stunning rendition of the great Indian epic Mahabharata, Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes brilliantly reverse the whole concept of what Bertolt Brecht famously advised theatre directors: to make the familiar, unfamiliar. Jain and Fernandes have turned the unfamiliar into the familiar. The 4,000-year-old saga most Indians grew up with is made accessible to a contemporary audience the world over. No mean feat.
‘The play, true to its source, crosses all boundaries of culture, class, and geography. Its timeless storytelling and evocative stage design is transformed into a saga for the world, with its fundamental emotions of human nature – power, hate, jealousy, greed, and lust. To be gob-smacked by this innovation would be an understatement. Immerse yourself in this take on the Mahabharata and travel with it in time into the past, present, and future of humanity.” – Deepa Mehta