Shakespearewallahs: The Kendals and Shakespeareana in India| A Virtual Conversation with Rochelle Almeida

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At least two generations of Indian school and university students had the privilege of being introduced to the works of William Shakespeare in performance through the efforts of Shakespeareana. Independence from the British Raj was just around the corner in 1946 when Geoffrey and Laura Kendal and their one year old baby, Jennifer, arrived in Bombay from London with their traveling troupe of players to perform extracts from Shakespeare’s plays. They recruited Indian actors to join their troupe and trained them during performances. Nineteen years later, their second child, Felicity (now a well-reputed stage, TV and film actor in the UK) was born. Both daughters began their acting careers under the tutelage of their parents who scoured the length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent bringing the magic of Shakespeare’s language, cadence and drama to Indian students. In the process, they associated closely with India’s First Family of Drama, the Kapoors. Jennifer married Indian cine-heart throb Shashi Kapoor. Their children uphold the Kendall-Kapoor traditions of taking quality theatre to the masses through their management of Prithvi Theatre in Bombay which was constructed by Jennifer in keeping with the last wishes of her father-in-law, Prithviraj Kapoor. The Kendalls continued to perform at Prithvi Theatre until a few years before they passed away (Laura in 1992 and Geoffrey in 1998). Their legacy remains in the work of contemporary Indian actors such as Naseeruddin Shah who credit India’s Shakespearewallahs for opening their minds to the possibilities of Western stagecraft  in India and to embracing acting as full-time professions.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Rochelle Almeida, a long-time Southport resident and staunch patron of Pequot Library, is Professor Emerita of the Humanities at New York University. She is the author of seven scholarly books. She is currently completing a book on the History of Western Performing Arts in India, which she researched while based in Bombay, India, as a Senior Fulbright Fellow. Her work on the contribution of the Kendals and Shakespeareana in India was accomplished through archival research and ethnographic interviews with contemporary performing artistes.

This talk is produced in conjunction with our exhibition How William Became Shakespeare: Four Hundred Years of the First Folio.

See below for the Zoom log-in information:

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Feb 2, 2024 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Pequot Library Presents: Rochelle Almeida

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February 2
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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