The Magic Hour by Arjun Raina

LA Mama Courthouse  2nd - 12th June 2016


The Magic Hour is a play about the effects of British Colonisation, about the duality of self, the split personality, half British half Indian, expressed through scenes of the British playwright William Shakespeare and through Indian classical dance, Kathakali. 

The Magic Hour is an exciting and flamboyant evening of music, dance and theatre that brings together, at the first instance, two wonderful traditions of the sixteenth/seventeenth century: Kathakali, a dance-theatre from India, and Shakespearean theatre from Elizabethan England. 


the players

Cast: Arjun Raina, Ezekiel Day, Helen Smith, Peter Fraser, Lillian Warrum, Cherian Jacob

Director: Arjun Raina

Lighting Design: Ezekiel Day

Light and Sound Operator: Madhulika Basu

Stage Manager: Madhulika Basu


why now?

At a time where the greater political vision in Australia is moving away from an Anglo Saxon centric cultural existence to a Asia/Asian embracing vision, this work, in a very genuine way is trying to locate the form, essence and spirit of Asian art forms, as embodied by Australian performers, in a performance that speaks via the English language and the works of Shakespeare to a contemporary Australian audience.

This work raises critical questions about the inter cultural exercise within a multicultural Australia i.e. the existence and performance of formal Asian art forms coming together as an integral part of an Australian performance. This is the right time to question the role of formal theatre within the contemporary Australian theatre scene. 


the project's history and present

This has been an ongoing project centred around Arjun Raina's work with Kathakali and Shakespeare. In its earlier avatars it has been performed at some of the finest theatre festival in Europe including Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany where it was curated along with the work of Pina Baush and Sasha Waltz. This work has also been translated in Japanese, French and Russian.

In its next phase of development this project will work to include three more Australian performers, two of Indian Origin i.e. Ezekiel Day and Cherian Jacob and an Odissi dancer of American descent, Lillian Warrum

In its latest development phase it has centred around Arjun Raina's PhD work at Flinders University, Adelaide. His project has brought together Peter Fraser and Helen Smith. Arjun, Helen and Peter are three Australian performers who have engaged with 3 Asian art forms - Kathakali, Butoh and Body weather. Over 6-8 months Helen and Peter learnt Kathakali from Arjun. They then brought their own styles into a performance that centred around both scenes from Shakespeare as well as Kathakali.


For photos click here or scroll through the photos in the album below

Courtesy of Darren Gill 

Photography Courtesy of the late Hanh Tran

PromoVideos courtesy Richard MClean