Bengaluru: Macbeth – a play that has stood the test of time and many different interpretations. A Kannada version, ‘Maaranayaka’, was presented in Bengaluru by convicts of Mysuru jail who had rehearsed for 25 days for this Shakespearian tragedy. The performance was part of a set of four plays that involved six months training in all.
The convicts were trained by Hulugappa Kattimani, who works with the theatre, Rangayana, in Mysuru. He said, “Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a very powerful play. Guilt is the main character. It is a good play for prisoners.”
Anburaj, one of the convicts acting in the play told NDTV, “Only when we accept our mistakes can we find a solution to them. That is what the play says also, that we need to acknowledge whatever wrong we have done. After I came to theatre work, I learnt new things and changed my way of living. It has taught me discipline. We are not wasting time now. Along with the play, we are reading books, discussing different issues. It has helped me a lot.”
The prisoners decided among themselves who would get to play each part. The man in charge of prisons in Karnataka would like to see this activity in other jails also. Kamal Pant, ADGP Prisons, said, “These people have done a very good performance with this drama. It is basically an effort to bring them to the mainstream, and we have got very good support from the people in the field of drama. This experiment has been successful. We would like to replicate it in other jails also.”
The state government has allotted Rs. 30 lakh for this theatre project. The project cooridnator, retired IPS officer Gopal Hosur, told NDTV, “This experiment of prison inmates enacting dramas was started way back in 1996 in Ballari Central Prison. And in the last 18 to 19 years, we have been able to successfully run these shows with the patronage of some public sector undertakings and some well-wishers. But last year, I had requested the government to allocate certain funds as this is something that is unique and is transforming the lives of the prisoners.”
“My personal experience has been that people who have enacted roles in these dramas have actually transformed themselves. They find it so interesting and absorbing that many of them have changed their lifestyles. The person who played Gandhi in Kasturba, he gave up non-vegetarian food and alcohol and imbibed some of the greatest Gandhian qualities. And this was inspiration for other prisoners also,” Mr Hosur added.