Mahabharata - Shaw Festival Theatre

A modern retelling of the epic Sanskrit poem.
Festival Theatre
August 15 - September 19
Dates & Tickets
Explore the play

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: innocent, peaceful and full of joy. A royal family is then torn apart by a dispute over the throne. Two groups of cousins – the Kauravas and the Pandavas – both claim to be the first in line and rightful heirs to the kingdom of Hastinapur. Competition, greed, and a desire for power take hold as they vie for the throne. 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 now on fire. A family dispute intensifies, as cousins become adults and fight for the throne in a great war. Victory and defeat become one as an entire generation is wiped out in an epic battle with few survivors left behind to rebuild. This reflects the battle we all must fight – the battle that is inside all of us. The story comes full circle as a new world is born – will we learn from the lessons of the past?

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
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
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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