Theatre of Dreams
March 21, 2012
Weird day of competing impressions: beginning in crowded active muslim tombs, throwing petals on the grave with more people than seems possible to fit into a 12' x 8' space and still have room for the shrine, then a beautiful but slightly uninvolving tourist experience at the carefully restored Tomb of Humayaun (does what is says on the tin).
We then asked to see how Dehli is now and so ended up in a new vast out of town city development of gated complexes tower blocks, multinational offices, some half built all looking forbidding, characterless and a depressing vision of the future.
Or is that just us imposing a nostalgia on the squalor as one might do for the old Gorbals, now that the 70s high rises have proved such a disaster. Who are we to say that a comfortable, yet neutral space isn't what people should be allowed to aspire too? Yet all around the cars, the street sellers, small roadside stalls all pile in, pushing at all the boundaries. You can change the architecture but it doesn't feel like the people's way of living will really change, each area of Delhi has the potential to end up as chaotic and cluttered as old Delhi.
The strange thing compared to western cities is that no space is un-used or ever really derelict; the old city seems thriving with its spice, clothes and hardware districts, it doesn't feel as if they are likely to be abandoned soon for out of town malls, rather the next use will be pasted onto the previous.
We ended with a Bollywood musical show at the Theatre of Dreams, a Vegas style complex plonked in the middle of this strange development, with giant fibreglass elephants and most of Delhi's electricity diverted to feed its light bulbs.
Very un-RSC but interesting to think of what people's perceptions of our show will be, Bollywood, Goodness Gracious Me will all be there. Perhaps we should fly Beatrice and Benedict at the end in a cloud of dry ice and burst into a full-on dance number? Might sell tickets !
by Tom Piper
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