It’s an idea that took actor-director Salim Ghouse (who started the theatre group The Phoenix Players) 20 years to take shape. Shakespearewallah, a tribute to playwright William Shakespeare, is a story based on Anton Chekhov’s acclaimed play, Swan Song. It brings forth the tale of a clown, who after his last show, looks back at his career and realises that he failed to do what he really wished to accomplish.
“For years I wondered about what happens in an empty theatre and taking a cue from that, I decided to do a play where the spirit of theatre comes alive. Shakespearewallah brings forth that thought through the story of a clown after the last show of his life.
Through the clown’s alter ego, who borrows characters from Shakespeare’s stories, the audience gets to see what the clown really wanted to be — an actor of classic dramas,” says Ghouse. Shakespearewallah, which premiered in June 2011, is a one-man show where Ghouse performs a multi-layered portrayal for 80 minutes.
Ghouse explains that although the play borrows from Shakespearean characters, it stays true to today’s times. Since it’s the story of a person, who has been working for 50 years but is eventually discarded by society since his job is done, it can find resonance among people across countries and generations. “It reflects today’s time where people don’t bother about you if your time’s up.” observes Ghouse.
While it may be challenging to get into the skin of the character, Ghouse reveals that after spending three decades in the field of theatre, the character assumes a life of its own. “After so many years, you reach a point where you don’t play the part, the part plays itself out,” he sums up.