Sakuntala Performance, November 1919

14 Nov 1919
End date: 
21 Nov 1919
Event location: 

Winter Garden Theatre, London


Kalidasa's Sakuntala was performed at two matinees at the Winter Garden Theatre in London in November 1919. The performance was organized by Kedar Nath Das Gupta and the Union of the East and West - a Society designed to put on Indian performances in London and promote Anglo-Indian understanding. Das Gupta approached Laurence Binyon to rework his rough translation of the play and the play was produced by Lewis Casson, who put his wife, Sybil Thorndike in the leading role (the cast was British). Binyon requested the help of William Rothenstein to design the curtains for the set, suggesting inspiration from Rajput paintings, but Rothenstein was unable to do so as he was away on Official War Artist duty in Belgium.

The Aga Khan and Maharaja of Baroda were among the attendees in a mixed audience of British and Indian well-wishers. The play was reviewed in a number of periodicals.

People involved: 

Laurence Binyon (adapted for stage), Lewis Casson (producer), Kedar Nath Das Gupta (organizer), William Rothenstein (initially requested to design scenery), Sybil Thorndike (actress), Bruce Winston (scenery designer)

Committee for Production: Dr T. W. Arnold, Bhupendra Nath Basu, Mrs G. F. Boyd, H. Dennis Bradley, Lord Carmichael, Jamnadas Dwarkadas, Alfred Ezra, Muriel Viscountess Helmsley, M. H. Ispahani, Mrs Geoffrey Lubbock, Mrs MacLellan, W. T. MacLellan, Mrs Woodhull Martin, Miss Clarissa Miles, Miss Margaret Mitchell, Sir S. D. Pattani, Charles Roberts, Mr & Mrs N. C. Sen, W. A. de Silva, Lord Sinha

Published works: 

Binyon, Laurence and Das Gupta, Kedar Nath, Sakuntala (London: Macmillan & Co., 1920)


The Times, 15 Nov 1919

The Era, 19 Nov 1919

The Stage, 20 Nov 1919


Archive source: 

Programme and fliers for the performance: '14 Nov 1919, Sakuntala', V&A Theatre Museum, Earls Court.

Letters from Laurence Binyon to William Rothenstein, Mss Eur B213, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras.


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