In celebration of Shakespeare’s 455th Birthday, students of the Department of English and Humanities at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) staged Caliban at ULAB’s campus A auditorium on April 26 and 27, 2019. The play, written and directed by internationally famed playwright Rani Drew, is inspired by Shakespeare’s famous play The Tempest.
In her play, Rani Drew, writer of Shakespeare Re-formed, starts the story where The Tempest ends.
As the colonizers—Prospero, Miranda and their aides—depart the Island, Ariel and Caliban discover themselves into a life without slavery. Spurred on by the spirit of freedom and camaraderie, they start to work together to build the future with other inhabitants of the island amid its natural resources, and flora and fauna. In the process, the island’s myths of gods and spirits reveal the rich culture of the people. Thus, they move into a new history of hope and progress.
Caliban is renamed as Carabima, by her mother Sycorax. She told him that Prospero had considered him a cannibal, that’s why he called him Caliban.
Like any colonized nation, the islanders also struggle in their post-colonial period of history. The power-hungry Mapachitl’s manipulation of the farmers, Atuki and Wutki, triggers conflicts between them and their new leader Carabima. But, with Ariel’s intervention, the conflicts are resolved, and it leads to Carabima’s marriage to his sister Tsilah during the island’s National Day celebration.
At the very end, just after the grand festival, Ariel is alarmed to see the speck of a ship out into the sea that makes him call for battle preparations. Ariel does not forget the past of the island. Thus, the struggle seems going on forever, which in the post-colonial world is true for most nations that once were colonized.
Among her forty plays, Rani Drew, a visiting scholar from Cambridge University, staged thirty plays in different countries like China, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and U.K. She is also a poet, short story writer and a novelist.
In most of her plays, especially those inspired by Shakespeare, Rani has given a bolder and braver voice to female characters such as Ophelia, Desdemona and Rosalind. In this play, too, a female character (Tsilah) plays a crucial role in resolving the conflict between the island’s inhabitants, which showcases her competence and leadership. She chooses Carabima over Mapachitl as her husband.
On the opening evening, Prof Kaiser Haq, Dean of ULAB’s School of Arts and Humanities, gave the welcome address. Among the distinguished guests, Professor Niaz Zaman and Professor Razia Sultana Khan were present.