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Shakuntala – a fifth-century classical Sanskrit masterpiece

Shakuntala – a fifth-century classical Sanskrit masterpiece

Media Statement by Professor Debbie Lutge, HOD – Drama & Production Studies

The Durban University of Technology Drama and Production Studies Department is proud to present Shakuntala; a fifth-century classical Sanskrit masterpiece. Shakuntala can be seen at the DUT Courtyard Theatre from Sunday 20 May to Friday 25 May 2012.

Acknowledged as an “ancient gem”, Shakuntala tells the story of a king (Dushyanta) who falls in love with a girl of humble origins, the beautiful Shakuntala. These plans are thwarted when an ill-tempered hermit curses the golden lotus Shakuntala for neglecting him. The curse results in the king forgetting who she is. But fate has a way of righting all wrongs and intervenes.

“Since the law of karma mechanically dispenses a kind of cosmic justice for every thought, word and deed, no occurrence in human life can be considered really tragic – hence the entire absence of tragedy in these classical forms – in fact the representation of death on stage is forbidden,” explains director Robin Singh. Therefore true love is destined to win the day.

Shakuntala features DUT undergraduate Drama students.

Poet, spiritual leader and social activist, Rabindranath Tagore described the play as an allegory in which the fibres of physical passion are toughened by pain and separation into a deep domestic, semi-spiritual love. “In classical Indian theatre, which includes dance and music, the performance is arranged around a number of sentiments (rasas) and a single play may incorporate several. Although Sanskrit works includes numerous rasas some prove more prominent than others, for example in Shakuntala we identify the principal emotions of desire, affection, erotic longing, sadness – although we do see elements of the comic and heroic as well,” continues Singh.

Shakuntala by Kalidasa is a project that pushes boundaries and sets challenges. A large cast in rich fabrics sport costume design by Robin Singh and Vasugi Singh – a trained classical Indian dancer who is also serving as cultural advisor for this production. The set is a collaborative design by Robin Singh, Marcia Peschke and Professor Deborah Lutge. Lighting design is by Courtyard Theatre Manager Mthandazo Mofokeng, who won the Best Technicians award at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival’s in 2010 and 2011.

Pictures are available on request from Sinegugu Ndlovu or Lebohang Sibisi (contact details are provided below).

Director: Robin Singh, Senior Lecturer, Drama Studies, DUT

Date: Sunday 20 May 2012 – Friday 25 May 2012
Time: 19h00
Venue: Courtyard Theatre, DUT, Steve Biko Road. Parking through Gate 4
Bookings: Lebohang Sibisi – 031-3732194
Tickets are available at the door for R20-00

Issued by:
Sinegugu Ndlovu
Media Officer
Durban University of Technology
031 373 2845
078 615 2662