Day 1: “Journeys end in lovers meeting”

Festival of Independence
Image source: Shakespeare’s Globe

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Indian independence (and also the Partition of India). In order to commemorate this, Tanika Gupta is curating the Festival of Independence at the Globe and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, comprising plays, music, and other various performances.

Following on from his more intimate concert last week in the SWP (India & Me), musician/composer/producer extraordinaire Nitin Sawhney played a sellout show in the Globe theatre itself last night with his full band (consisting of several singers, and instrumentalists from the cello to the tabla).

As well as his obvious link to the Festival of Independence (his parents being Punjabi immigrants), he also has connections to theatre – and even Shakespeare. In 2003 he composed some music for a television adaptation of Twelfth Night, set in the present day and featuring a multi-ethnic cast. His version of O, Mistress Mine from this actually plays as part of a short video in the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Rather fittingly, Sawhney chose to end his show with this song (as part of an encore) as a thank you to everyone at the Globe and as something of a tribute. With Twelfth Night being my favourite Shakespeare play, and this year’s production recently closing, I couldn’t think of a better way for the first day of this challenge week to end.

He and the band played a mixture of older and more rarely played songs, with recent ones – and even a cover version that was more Latin American, which inadvertently celebrated Much Ado for me! As well as O, Mistress Mine, highlights had to be Homelands (with the whole band involved) and Prophesy, as well as Sunset as the sun went down (behind the clouds!) at around 8.10pm.

The Globe proved itself to be an ideal venue for a concert such as this, though I suspect there will be no more events of this kind in the future. It also struck me during the show that this also celebrates the Summer of Love aspect in a tiny way, as that was the time when Indian influences in pop music really began to take hold.

You might have noticed that, unlike my Sunny challenge weeks (bar the first), I haven’t set myself mini-challenges for each day this week. One reason for that is that I’m standing for shows for five out of the seven days, which is quite a physical challenge in itself (especially as most of the week I’ll probably be standing in a warm lab for hours). And with there being a variety of shows going on it would’ve been difficult to come up with specific challenges. Although standing for this concert proved something of a challenge as I forgot the unpredictability of people moving during a show; I’ve obviously stood in the yard a lot for plays, and have been to my fair share of gigs elsewhere and stood, but never have I had someone gradually backing into me and boxing me in before. I was prepared for people to perhaps try and move forward a bit, from past experience, but this reversing was completely unexpected and was a real test of my ability to stay calm as tall people basically trapped me. It nearly marred the whole evening, and I did start to wish I’d sat instead, but I managed it – and was glad I could experience it from that close.

So that was day one! In case you missed it, I launched a competition to win a groundling ticket for later in this season – all you have to do is complete the Shakespeare quiz.

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