Dubai: 'Macbeth' by, to and for the students
Students of Amity University Dubai’s Drama Society bring alive the tragedy on stage and leave one overwhelmed.
Shakespeare’s words can leave you overwhelmed, which is something I learnt early on. As I pursued Masters in Literature, I realised that Shakespeare and I were to run into each other now and then, from the classroom to the stage.
When I came to Dubai, I observed that the literature and art enthusiasts of the city were divided into We love Bard and well, We Don’t Get Bard. And both groups pursue their passion, with equal fervour. Having said that, the local theatre community can never get enough of Bard’s tragedies, so it was no surprise when last weekend Amity University Dubai’s Drama Society staged Macbeth at the university campus’ auditorium.
Their last show was in 2019, when they put up another Shakespearean drama, Othello. Covid-19 hit, and they could not put up a show in 2020, and even this show was put together in less than two months, act-by-act, keeping safety precautions in mind.
It’s a mammoth task to put together a Macbeth in normal times, and to do that during a pandemic: think five acts and 28+ scenes, on stage, is a massive feat. An invite was sent out to 2,000 students to audition, and in the end, over 100 were selected, with 55+ forming the magnificent crew. Yes, from the backstage staff, costume designers, make-up artists, prop creators, actors, and directors are were students. They were led by faculty members, Sonakshi Ruhela, Sudha Bhatia and Robert Studholme.
It’s the actors that bring the characters alive and each of the cast members from Macbeth, played by Hani Jamal, who was also one of the student directors of the play along with two other brilliant student directors Shehram Burney and Karan Ramchandani, to Macduff’s wife played by Hanaan, delivered lengthy dialogues (a few in Shakespearean English!) beautifully. The make-up and the vile acting of the three witches (Hiba, Cassandra and Aamina) made me almost love the evil! Did I mention, I couldn’t take my eyes of Banquo and Lady Macbeth, played by Islem and Tanya, respectively. Now, how does one move scenes from the palace to the forests?
Well, with a clever play of props as depicted the students, as throughout the one and half hour of the play’s duration, the students literally ‘hidden’ behind the movable walls, with one side depicting leaves as a backdrop, and the other bricks, patiently and diligently moved (the walls) to support the scene. The costumes and props, each handcrafted by the students of the Fashion and Engineering department of the university, were enough to give one goosebumps.
Macbeth was said to be performed for the first time in 1606, and even in 2021, these students kept the magic of the emotions alive. You know what’s going to happen next, yet to watch the show in apt attention. That’s after all, the magic of theatre. What’s next? Cleopatra and Anthony or Romeo and Juliet; well, you know what group these young adults belong to, We love Bard.