Get ready to witness the contemporary adaptation of Mahabharata, the four-thousand-year-old Sanskrit epic, as it begins previews at The Shaw’s Festival Theatre. Why Not Theatre’s Mahabharata, written and adapted by Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes, uses poetry from Carole Satyamurti’s Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling to explore profound philosophical and spiritual ideas, while chronicling the gripping saga of the Pandava and Kaurava clan rivalry, the devastating war that follows and a journey through the past to create an inspired and renewed future.

Mahabharata is presented in two parts, with Mahabharata: Karma (Part 1) beginning previews on February 28, followed by Mahabharata: Dharma (Part 2) on March 1. On March 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18, 25, and 26, both parts will be presented, along with Khana, a community meal with storytelling. The world premiere of Mahabharata, a Why Not Theatre production in association with Barbican, London, commissioned and premiering at The Shaw Festival, will run until March 26 at the Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Mahabharata is a visually stunning modern take on the ancient Indian poem, engaging playful narration, live music, captivating projections, dynamic soundscapes, poetic stage design, and a tapestry of movement, including elements of Odissi, Kalaripayattu, and Kathakali, to convey the stories of mortals struggling to build a just world in the face of competition, jealousy, and rage. Mahabharata: Dharma (Part 2) includes an original Sanskrit operatic adaptation of the Bhagavad Gita – the most renowned and significant passage of the Mahabharata.

The Shaw Festival’s premiere presentation of Why Not Theatre’s Mahabharata features a talented cast, including Shawn Ahmed as Yudhishthira, Neil D’Souza as Krishna, Jay Emmanuel as Amba/Pandu/Shiva, Miriam Fernandes as Storyteller/Astika, and others. Live music in Mahabharata: Karma (Part 1) is performed and was created by Dylan Bell, John Gzowski, Gurtej Singh Hunjan, Zaheer-Abbas Janmohamed, Hasheel Lodhia, and Suba Sankaran.

Mahabharata promises to be a captivating and thought-provoking experience that combines ancient philosophy with modern storytelling techniques. The production team includes Lorenzo Savoini, set design; Gillian Gallow, costume design; Kevin Lamotte, lighting design; Hana S. Kim, projections design; Ann Slote, projections design associate; John Gzowski and Suba Sankaran, composers and sound design Hasheel Lodhia, traditional music consultant; Brandy Leary, choreography; and John Stead, fight director. So, get ready to witness this incredible production and take a journey through the past to create an inspired and renewed future.

Mahabharata begins previews February 28 and is available for review beginning March 9 at the Festival Theatre. Recommended for audience members 12+/Grade 7+. On March 7 and 8, The Shaw Express will stop at 501 Main Street South in Brampton, then stop in Burlington. There is no Toronto stop on these two dates. Round-trip: $29 return per person. Ticket to a performance required. Please check for more information on the Toronto-Niagara Shaw Express.


Mahabharata: Karma: 2 hours and 30 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.

Khana: 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Mahabharata: Dharma: 2 hours and 20 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.

It is recommended to see both parts to fully experience this legendary epic.

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