Mahabharata - Shaw Festival Theatre

A modern retelling of an epic Sanskrit poem.
Festival Theatre
February 28 - March 26
Dates & Tickets
Explore the play

WORLD PREMIERE. Presented in conjunction with Toronto’s innovative Why Not Theatre, Mahabharata (pronounced “Ma-ha-BAR-ah-tha”) is a contemporary take on a Sanskrit epic that is more than four thousand years old and foundational to Indian culture. This gripping story of a family feud is an exploration of profound philosophical and spiritual ideas. Mahabharata is a visually stunning spectacle presented in two parts that takes audiences on a journey through the past in order to write a thrilling new future.

Recommended for Grade 7+ | Age 12+

Listen to Sharada Eswar, the Khana storyteller, doing a reading of the Mahabharata title.


King Janamejaya is holding a ritual sacrifice in which he will kill all the snakes in the world to avenge his father’s death. In hopes of ending this cycle of revenge, a storyteller is summoned to tell the tale of the Mahabharata; beginning with the rival Pandava and Kaurava clans, and the choices that lead to their infamous Game of Dice. Through playful narration, with live music, the Ensemble tells the stories of humans struggling to build a just world in the face of competition, jealousy and rage.

King Janamejaya is told of the war fought by his ancestors — its devastating destruction of the planet, the mass extinction that followed, and of the survivors left behind to rebuild. Using captivating projections, dynamic soundscapes, and poetic stage design, Part 2: Dharma includes a 15-minute Sanskrit opera adaptation of the Bhagavad Gita. King Janamejaya is confronted with the battle of Kurukshetra, and the battle inside his own heart. Are we destined to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors?

For the full experience of this epic story, we recommend seeing both Parts 1 and 2. You can experience both parts of Mahabharata in one day with the Khana community meal interlude, or on separate days. Learn more

Join us for Mahabharata: Conversations. Online conversations with experts and artists.

Technical Credits
Written and adapted by Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes
Using poetry from Carole Satyamurti's Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling
Original concept developed with Jenny Koons
A Why Not Theatre Production
In association with Barbican, London
Commissioned and presented by the Shaw Festival
Directed by Ravi Jain
With associate director: Miriam Fernandes
Set designed by Lorenzo Savoini
Costumes designed by Gillian Gallow
Lighting designed by Kevin Lamotte
Projections designed by Hana S. Kim
with associate projections designer Ann Slote
Original music and sound designed by John Gzowski and Suba Sankaran
Traditional Music Consultant Hasheel Lodhia
Choreographed by Brandy Leary
Khana Storyteller and Artistic Associate Sharada K Eswar
Mahabharata Production Manager Crystal Lee
Mahabharata Lead Producer Kevin Matthew Wong

Original concept developed with Jenny Koons. Mahabharata uses poetry from Carole Satyamurti’s Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling.

Dates & Tickets
p Preview
sm Special Matinee
o Opening
cc Closed Captioning
f Final Performance
Shaw Express Available
{{ item.Date | date:'EEE' }}
{{ item.Date | date:'MMM d' }}
{{ item.Date | date:'h:mma' }}
so ! {{label}} {{label}}
Sold Out
Buy now
Call 1-800-511-7429
You may also like ...

Town hero? Wanted criminal? Or both? J.M. Synge’s classic comedy of rural life in Ireland.

June 8 - October 7

How two imperfect strangers make the perfect couple.

August 3 - October 6

Can Robert and Madeleine find peace in a world of war?

See all Events & Activities
Continue the Conversation
Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre
Following most Tuesday, Thurdsay, Friday and Saturday matinees join fellow patrons for an engaging, guided discussion.
Learn more
Monologue Derby for Teens
Festival Theatre
An opportunity for aspiring young actors from Niagara Region high schools to work with Shaw professionals and engage in meaningful mentorship, training and performance.
Learn more
Duty of Care
During your visit to the theatre,
your well-being is top of mind.
Learn more
Shaw Express
Getting to The Shaw from downtown Toronto and Burlington made easy.
Plus, Holiday Season service.
Learn more
Gift Certificates
Gift certificates to the Shaw Festival make dramatic presents. (In a good way).
Share This