Mahabharata - Shaw Festival Theatre

A modern retelling of an epic Sanskrit poem.
Festival Theatre
August 15 - September 19
Dates & Tickets
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Presented in conjunction with Toronto’s innovative Why Not Theatre, Mahabharata 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.

Karma: The Life We Inherit
The world is born. It is innocent, peaceful and full of joy. We hear the origin story of the rival Pandava and Kaurava clans and all the choices that lead to their infamous Game of Dice. Each action taken during these origin stories plants a seed for the future. What are the choices we inherit and how do the choices we make impact generations to come? The world moves from innocence to corruption and the planet is slowly set alight.

In addition to regular seating, Part 1 features 120 seats available onstage.

Dharma: The Life We Choose
The world is on fire. There is a battle that we must fight – it is inside all of us. What is your purpose? How do you determine right from wrong? We tell the story of the end of the world, of a great battle which causes a mass extinction and of the survivors left behind to rebuild.

For the full experience of this epic story, we recommend seeing both Parts 1 and 2. You can experience both parts in either one day with a meal between each part, or on separate days.

Technical Credits
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
Commissioned and presented by the Shaw Festival
Directed by Ravi Jain
Designed by Camellia Koo
Lighting designed by Kevin Lamotte
Projections designed by Hana S. Kim
Sound designed by Suba Sankaran and John Gzowski
Music by Suba Sankaran and John Gzowski, with Ed Hanley and Hasheel Lodhia
Traditional music consultant Hasheel Lodhia
Producers Kevin Matthew Wong and Kendra Bator

Khaana: Community Meal
The Mahabharata is a story that one learns over a lifetime; it needs to be absorbed and digested. To delve deeper into the philosophical riddles of the Pandava family’s 13 years of exile, the audience gathers to share a traditional South Asian meal. Experience the stories as many people have, from elders around the dinner table. The stories of life told where life happens.

On the following dates Mahabharata: Karma (Part 1) and Mahabharata: Dharma (Part 2) will be presented over the course of one day allowing you to enjoy this epic theatrical event in its entirety with Khaana in between, on the grounds of the Shaw Festival. Seating is limited.

  • August 15, 21, 22, 28, 29
  • September 2, 4, 6, 11, 12, 17, 19

View your meal options here and join us for this epic event!


Mahabharata is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter initiative. With this $35M initiative, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.
Mahabharata was developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.

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