Mussoorie, April 23
Local historians and residents of Mussoorie remembered the greatest English playwright of his time William Shakespeare on his 448th birth anniversary and 396th death anniversary here today.
Students from public and Hindi medium schools recited verses from his famous play Macbeth and Julius Caesar, which are presently in the syllabus of the schools. A biography of the playwright was also read out to the students.
Principal of Mussoorie Public School Mukesh Lal said that his school had been actively observing the birth and death anniversary of the “Bard of Avon” that coincidentally falls on the same day.
He said the plays of Shakespeare were relevant even today as they often have in them an element of racial tension. Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Titus Andronicus reminds us not to engage in racial scuffles as it lead to unnecessary bloodshed.
Eminent historian and chronicler from Mussoorie Gopal Bhardwaj showed the original scrap book of Captain Fredrik Young, the founder of the town. He said love for Shakespeare could be proven from the etching of bard found in the scrap book that has been preserved in its original form even today. The etching, if sold today, could fetch more than £400 in Sotheby’s, added Bhardwaj.
He also said the town use to reverberate with the plays at the theatres, especially built for the Shakespearean plays during the British rule.
Until 1884, the Landour theatre in the Lal Tibba area, which was a convalescent depot for the soldiers passing their time on furlough, acted as a hub to showcase the plays by Shakespeare where eminent personalities enacted various characters from “Macbeth” and “As You Like It” . Alice McDonald, the mother of eminent author Rudyard Kipling, also actively participated in the Shakespearian plays in Mussoorie.
The plays were also held at the Himalaya Club and the Rink Theatre often. The British were so fond of Shakespeare that the Rink Theatre was constructed in 1892 resembling the Globe Theatre of London and the measurement of the theatre was exactly the same to the last inch. Later with the advent of cinema halls in 1910 in Mussoorie, the Shakespearean plays lost their sheen and after Independence, the theatre in the town came to an abrupt end.
Gopal Bhardwaj lamented the fact that the plays are not performed in the town anymore and believes that his plays inculcated a sense of adventurism and creativity among students. Therefore, the revival of his plays in the town would benefit not only the students but the old likely.