Theatre-maker Rosten Abel: "Indian actors are much more uninhibited"

June 2008 -

"Budgets and facilities make it much nicer to make theatre in Europe. The big disadvantage in my view is the high level of professionalism. British actors in particular are very good and so technically skilled that I often miss the warmth in their acting. I actually prefer Indian actors because I believe they are much more uninhibited. They are ideal to work with for a director."

Scene from Othello: A Play in Black & White

Indian theatre-maker Rosten Abel created an Othello adaptation in 1999 that has since become a success throughout the world. "We don't play it very often, actually by invitation only." His adaptation is about a company that is performing Othello, with the lead unexpectedly awarded to a dark Assamese. "India is a highly racist country, and it probably always will be. The newly prosperous middle class acts just like the upper class, which keeps racism going. I think it is important to reflect that in my work", says Abel.

Abel is a jack of all trades. With his Indian Shakespeare Company, he not only directs, but also writes and produces musical performances. He filmed his own Othello adaptation. His company alternately plays in Europe and India. "Of course it is interesting and inspiring to play in Europe. It is also extremely profitable for us. I hope this will enable me to achieve my dream in five years: The Institute of Traditional and Contemporary Theatre. There are many excellent actors in India, but they all act traditionally. Many of the players are extremely good without even knowing it, making them less arrogant than a lot of Europeans. That is great because it is the room between the actor as a person and his acting talent that holds the most promise of the unexpected. That is what I love. That is what makes it possible to truly create magic."

The Indian Shakespeare Company performed Othello: a play in Black & White on May  29 and 30, 2008 in the Tropentheater.