Bollywood comes alive on stage

The Center for the Arts has brought “The Merchants of Bollywood” to Mason as a part of their “Global View” Series. Photo courtesy of the Center for the Arts.

As part of the “Global View” Series, the Center for the Arts presented “The Merchants of Bollywood.” And no, it’s not a show about the economic situation of the Indian entertainment scene.

Based on a true story, “The Merchants of Bollywood” is about love and art crossing the generational gap. Beyond that, it’s also a satire of the industry, not only in India, but worldwide. “Merchants” goes through the story of a female choreographer, Ayesha Merchant, trying to find her rhythm in modern-day Bollywood.

Her grandfather, Shantilal Merchant, who also used to choreograph in Bollywood, left the indutry due to a disapproval of the westernization and commercialization of the art form he thought to be crucial in a post-Britain nation. Strife between the two ensues and a test to find middle ground between old and new.

“Merchants” features a slew of exciting choreography set to high-tempo traditional and popular Indian music. While the dancing is reflective of the culture, there is a strong Western flavor in the dancing, music and costumes. The familiar feelings created by “Merchants” helps those not familiar with Bollywood.

The show feaures 22 dancers in constant motion complimented by a dozen costume changes and continuous display of new and challenging dance moves. The dancers take moments to involve the crowd with rhythmic clapping and even dancing with a few lucky members of the audience.

With its great, high-octane music, exhilarating choreography and exotic atmosphere, “The Merchants of Bollywoood” is nothing short of incredible.

Mason Players bring Shakespeare to life

The Mason Players have put themselves to the test with “Pericles.” Photo courtesy of the Center for the Arts.

For those thinking of seeing “The Town,” “Easy A” or even “Jackass 3D,” here’s a better option. This weekend, the de Laski Performing Arts Building is home to all the on-stage humor and drama you need, all for less than the price of a movie ticket.The Mason Players of George Mason University premiered their fall 2010 production of Shakespeare and Wilkins’ “Pericles” on Thursday.

To recreate the large-scale Greek epic, the mainstage production requires a great amount of effort and an expansive cast and crew.

“We try to do [Shakespeare] every couple of years so each generation of students gets a couple of shots at seeing and performing it,” said Artistic Director Rick Davis.

Despite having a successful track record and experience performing the works of Shakespeare, “Pericles” was not an easy task for the Players. One of the biggest challenges was getting the large cast and crew to work together harmoniously.

“Everything is interwoven,” said Stage Manager and junior theater major Jessica Poole. “We have a composer and so the actors must work with the sound, which must work with the lights. It’s intense.”

With 23 actors, the show is large in scale. The cast sees this as a challenge they are capable of overcoming. Of course, the play’s content does not hurt – “Pericles” is a mix of music, dance and fight scenes.

Although the plays of Shakespeare are notoriously hard to absorb, the Players have been working hard to make sure the experience is as accessible as possible. While it is a distinct possibility the audience might get lost in some of the dialogue, the combination of the acting, talent and directing lets the audience experience the action for themselves.

With a healthy dose of action, “Pericles” is a nice change from the usual Shakespearean plays. While still full of deception and intrigue, it has genuinely likeable characters, humor and powerful emotion.

The Players’ production of “Pericles” has one more weekend and tickets are available at the Center for the Arts box office.