If you missed the massively brilliant and successful National Theatre run of ‘Dara’ last year, you have a rare second chance tomorrow as the London Metropolitan University screens a film of the full live performance.
‘Dara’ is a play about the epic tale of Dara Shikoh, favourite elder son of Emperor Shah Jahan, and his succession battle with and subsequent persecution by his younger brother Aurangzeb. It’s an adaptation of Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem’s highly acclaimed Urdu original which has run in Pakistan for several years.
Dara, played brilliantly by Zubin Varla, is a liberal philosopher, a champion of religious tolerance, much-loved by all. He’s a gentle man who loves poetry and music, and embodies ideals of beauty and peace. Aurangzeb, on the other hand, is the archetypal neglected younger sibling, resentful of his father’s obvious preference for his brother. He’s a relatively charmless character who struggles to cope with his father’s indifference and the death of his lover Hira Bai, becoming colder and more power-hungry as a result.
At the heart of the play is a thrilling court scene where Dara’s works on finding harmony between Islamic and Hindu spirituality (for example translating the Upanishads) are used to support the charges of heresy against him, and argued out against Aurangzeb’s more conservative and literalist ideology. But here perhaps lies the greatest flaw in the play where the conservative camp is presented as bungling caricatures, depriving audiences from insight into why, beyond a monopoly on brute power, their brand of Islam has proven so dominant in recent history. Nevertheless, it’s an important and relevant representation of the multiplicities within Islam, and Dara’s impassioned speech is a supremely compelling portrayal of spiritual, pluralist Islam.
When: Thursday 14 April 2016, 5.30pm
Where: The Wash Houses, London Metropolitan University 25 Old Castle Street, London E1 7NT
Tickets: Free, but you must register at the link below
Website: Dara Screening Eventbrite page
Posted by SK on 13 April 2016