What impact has Shakespeare’s writing had on Indian theater? And, how has Indian theater shaped and altered Shakespeare’s work?
Shakespeare’s interaction with India came, of course, in the context of India’s experience with British colonization and colonialism. In 1600, Queen Elizabeth I gave a charter to the East India Company to trade with the Shahs, emperors and Maratha princes who’d ruled the subcontinent for the previous century. Over the 150 years that followed, the East India Company transitioned from being merchant traders into a kind of quasi-government. After Indians rebelled in 1857, Queen Victoria closed down the East India Company and ruled India directly as a British colony. During the run-up to the rebellion, English had become India’s language of instruction. Among the Indian elite, you needed to know Shakespeare in order to appear truly educated.
In this podcast episode, Barbara Bogaev interviews Jyotsna Singh, Professor of English at Michigan State University, and Modhumita Roy, Associate Professor of English at Tufts.
“From the Farthest Steep of India” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington.
We had help from Marcus Rediker at the University of Pittsburgh, Thomas Devlin at WGBH radio in Boston, Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West Recording Studio in Los Angeles, and Ricky Nalett at L. A. Productions in Dewitt, Michigan.
The contemporary Indian film adaptations of Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet to which Jyotsna Singh refers are all by the Indian film director Vishal Bhardwaj.