What a wonderful, enthusiastic welcome we received at The Shri Ram Millennium School, Greater Noida for Parnab Mukherjee’s session, Museum of Million Hamlets.

The staff and pupils from classes 7, 8 and 9 gathered with noisy excitement but a hush fell over everybody as Parnab began. In introduction to his solo performance of Hamlet, as seen through South Asian eyes, Parnab mentioned that Shakespeare’s birth, 450 years ago, was not in isolation. November 6th, for instance, was 100 years to the day that Mahatma Gandhi led a march of Indian miners to the then Transvaal. He talked honestly of his work with children in conflict areas. Parnab’s Shakespeare is not to be found in textbooks or in swanky theatres. William Shakespeare is his friend.

Connecting with Shakespeare

Connecting with Shakespeare

A five-minute projector show played in the background as Parnab began his performance. The images were cartoons of everyday life and objects with surreal but subtle use of human figures. Hands hanging from the ceiling holding the lamp in place or a man used as a doormat, children as table and chairs were all images that made us smile but think about their meaning too.

Parnab’s solo of many voices, accents and identities along with images of conflict, children suffering, old age and death shocked, amused, entertained and imparted the essence of Hamlet with only a few of Shakespeare’s words. To be or not to be? To live or to die?

The young people were enthralled throughout and had many questions, which Parnab turned into a lively discussion.

Wendy Knight