Romeo and Juliet in Bollywood style at Off Broadway

Shakespeare’s love story, Romeo and Juliet will be staged at the Access Theater in Tribeca, New York on February 6  and runs through February 22. Produced by the Hypokrit Theatre Company, founded by Arpita Mukherjee and Shubhra Prakash, two award winning theatre professionals, the drama is set in New Delhi, but the characters speak Shakespearean dialogues.

This is the first time Shakespeare’s verse is being interspersed with Bollywood music and dance, the producers claimed. It is also noted for two casts performing Romeo and Juliet in repertory. Eamonn Farrell, pioneer in projection design and Professor of Media Design at Princeton, creates groundbreaking projections to capture the Bollywood aesthetic in an intimate 50-seat black box theatre.

At the Kick Off Party, director Arpita Mukherjee shared her vision behind the production: ‘Our Romeo and Juliet is going to be visually stunning and so viscerally engaging that audiences won’t really have time to think about whether they ‘understand’ Shakespeare or Bollywood. The world we are creating, you won’t be able to keep yourself from being completely immersed in it, and just follow the emotional arc of the story. But it isn’t fluff (because it’s Bollywood).

‘We’re exploring some serious issues in the play: the treatment of women, meaningless violence in the urban landscape and the way power and greed serve as motivators for ‘progress’ and what that means for a city’s story. Of course, we’re talking about this in the context of New Delhi, but the tropes have universal resonance. Though Hypokrit is a new company, this does not diminish the quality of their productions. Romeo and Juliet is the result of several months of sweat equity, and a commitment to professionalism and creative marketing.’

According to cofounder Shubhra Prakash, \"What we can\'t do without big budgets, we can do with a big imagination. Experimental theatre, race-blind casting, and diverse voices don\'t have to mean low-cost and/or low-quality theatre.\" Entertainment and culture are an important part of our community as it is in India.

\"This production truly has merit,\" says Roger Sen Gupta, founder of USIN Celebrations and Executive Producer of Romeo and Juliet, \"It weaves the mosaic and tapestry of the multicultural cast from the financial and multi-cultural capital of the world.\" Hypokrit not only embraces a transnational cultural landscape, it is also a business.

As the director of Romeo and Juliet, Hypokrit cofounder Arpita Mukherjee facilitated the training of actors in the rasa methodology, an India performance aesthetic that is designed to elicit an emotional response from the audience. Mukherjee explains, \"The rasa theory allows an actor to free himself or herself up while keeping the actor\'s process intact. When people see the play, they will very clearly see the relationships and all that comes from the rasa workshops we did for key scenes. Initially the actors were not entirely comfortable with it but once they started doing it, it became a different way to access the scene and a new tool in their acting process.\" While rasa is not a new methodology, it has never before been adapted for Shakespeare in this way, and provided the cast with a cultural education along with their training. This blending of culture, in the interest of advocating for the embrace of diversity using the arts, is a shared mission between Hypokrit and USIN Celebrations, making this a historic collaboration that must not be missed.

Founded by two award winning South Asian theatre professionals, Arpita Mukherjee and Shubhra Prakash, the company strives towards, in their words, \"Making multicultural mainstream.\" This blending of culture, in the interest of advocating for the embrace of diversity using the arts, is a shared mission between Hypokrit and USIN Celebrations, making this a historic collaboration that must not be missed.

Hypokrit Theatre Company is a new, multicultural theatre company that adapts classics from around the world for the contemporary audience and aims to encourage diverse voices in the arts by exploring what makes a story resonate with universal audiences, through the ages and across borders.

Hypokrit Theatre Company’s Kick Off Party, Executive Producer, founder of USIN Celebrations, and Global Chairman of Park Place Group, Inc., Roger Sen Gupta, presented Hypokrit cofounders Arpita Mukherjee and Shubhra Prakash with a certificate of special recognition on behalf of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

photo: Hypokrit diversity