Staying true to the script

Changing times

Staying true to the script
Theatre personality and founder of Jagriti Theatre, Arundhati Raja will present her production, ‘At Home at the Zoo’ on February 26 at Ranga Shankara and February 27 and 28, at Jagriti Theatre as part of the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival. It is a classic by Edward Albee.

Arundhati has been entertaining her audience by putting up some of the most awe-inspiring plays for sometime now. She feels that any inspired play must be true to the original. Talking about her production, she says, “I don’t believe in modifying plays so I consciously choose a play that I know that we can perform and the audience will understand without me changing it. There are plays that cannot be understood by an audience, no matter where they are performed. I don’t believe that we should keep everything close to the Indian context just because we think that the audience will not understand it. According to me, if the play doesn’t work, maybe it is not the right place for it. My play is a play written by Edward Albee and I will never dream of changing his writing.”

Ask her how the play is relevant in today’s world and she says, “The play is in two acts. The second act is the zoo story and Edward penned it back in 1958. It has been performed all over the world. Later, he decided that one of the characters Peter was not represented enough within the play so he added the first act which is called ‘Homelife’. Here, one can see Peter and his wife, their relationship with each other and what leads Peter to go the park. This is when the zoo story starts. It is just about people, relationships and the various challenges they face, loneliness in an urban situation and the individuals’ eagerness to talk about their problems. In the first act, one can see a happy marriage which slowly leads to different things. However, the second act is about two very different people and how they meet. These elements are global and well across time. I feel that this is why these kind of plays last.”

Her play revolves around the motif of survival of an individual. She explains, “There are certain parts of the play where the representation of things are in an odd manner and they are a little over the top. If one sees these closely, they also happen in real life. It basically acts like a mirror to the audience. The play shows how one can survive, come back to it or learn from it.”

Talking about the importance of lights, props and how these elements play an important part of the play, Arundhati says that she likes to keep her sets simple, with minimum props and lighting. “For an ambience that creates the mood of the whole play, we like to keep it simple. Like in my play, the living room will have a sofa and a park bench. These props act like two characters. The lighting we use is to highlight and reflect what is happening on stage and the mood of it.”  She adds, “I don’t use shadow effects just for the sake of it but there might be dimming of the lights at some point which is generally done to enhance what is happening on stage and not merely to show the effect.” Her target audience cuts across ages as the play is a learning piece. Though the play has a restricted age group to watch because the language is tough, she says that anybody — “young or older, couple or single” can watch the play as they can learn about the various phases of a relationship.”

She considers the theatre scene in the City as a vibrant one and says that it has gained popularity amongst youngsters. She says, “I would say youngsters should look at theatre more seriously and dedicate themselves to it. We see a lot of young actors coming into theatre. They have figured out different avenues they can venture into and earn a few pennies through script-writing. It’s a great scenario.” She explains, “We have two dedicated spaces for theatre — Ranga  Shankara and Jagriti — and I feel that this has helped us and all the other theatre enthusiasts come together and host plays. Various workshops in these spaces are also encouraging. Though people say that theatre does not see much of an audience.”

Pointing out the challenges, she says, “We are a performing company and have a physical theatre space to run. So, since the inception of Jagriti we have faced the challenge of managing both. One of biggest issues is to get audience to watch plays.” However Arundhati remains committed to theatre and says that the fact that theatre has been there since time immemorial means it will never die.

Tickets are available at the venue and www.bookmyshow.com

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