A Circus Theatre Britindia Production
A unique and special version of Phantom Queen was performed on 27th August 2016 to celebrate the opening of Belfast Mela’s 10th anniversary produced by ArtsEkta. The two sell out performances took place in a tent a day before the main Mela opened. A family show full of the colours of India.
Three iconic Asian animals – the Horse, Camel and Elephant – lead us into a world of a Raja in search of himself.
In his palace, the Raja is in peaceful meditation. The scintillating Ras Kapoor, a young courtesan, suddenly appears and dashes his reverie. She drives the Raja to distraction despite caution from her sister, Sar. So besotted is the Raja that he presents her with everything she desires. Yet it is not sufficient. She demands he brings her a White Elephant.
And so the Raja prepares himself for his quest. The Royal Priest transforms himself into a magic horse to journey with him. His old nurse maid concocts a range of potions to protect him from evil and a Camel is prepared to bear these. And so they depart in search of the White Elephant.
After enduring deprivation and extreme weather conditions, the Raja is still no closer in finding a White Elephant. In exasperation, he kills all the animals in sight, causing a sea of bloodshed. Suddenly he spots the White Elephant. He slaughters it and lifts her head high in triumph. Then he becomes aware of a deep sadness filling the air. It is Sorrow lamenting the murder. As he battles with his conscience and tries to restrain her, Sorrow transforms into Lust. Mad with desire, he claims her as his wife and takes her back to the palace.
At the palace, he presents Ras Kapoor with her trophy. She seizes it. As she does so Lust mocks her. Above her, the soul of the Elephant appears and trumpets stridently. Lust turns into the Phantom Queen and reunites the soul of the Elephant with her body. Then she curses the Raja and his Court, turning them all into demons. They whip the audience into a frenzy and everyone joins in a final spirited dance.
Phantom Queen began life in the Autumn of 2015 in Jaipur. The production was workshopped with Rajasthan artists. The cast for Belfast Mela comprised a mix of British and Indian artists.
Phantom Queen Bhagya Lakshmi Thyagarajan
Raja Rez Kabir
Raja’s maid Ipshita Rajesh
Ras Kapoor Tanya Latwal
Sar Roopak Hélène Lesage
Horse / Priest Cid Shaha
Elephant Zahara O’Brien
Camel Alejandra Baño Pelegrin
Jyotsna Srikanth, Ritvik Sharma, Ruchira Sharma (violins and vocals), percussionist (tbc).
Directed by Hi Ching. Music by Jyotsna Srikanth and Hi Ching