martes, 10 de abril de 2018

I have never done a play that doesn’t have something strong to say to the audience says Feisal Alkazi | The Indian Express

I have never done a play that doesn’t have something strong to say to the audience says Feisal Alkazi | The Indian Express

I have never done a play that doesn’t have something strong to say to the audience says Feisal Alkazi

Feisal Alkazi on his new works, the women who occupy his imagination and studying the politics of family

Written by Dipanita Nath | Updated: April 7, 2018 11:48:52 am
Feisal Alkazi new play
Scene from Noor
In his recently renovated, chic drawing room, cut off from the thrum of traffic of Greater Kailash II in Delhi, Feisal Alkazi is discussing a hectic year ahead. This month, he will open a new play, The Gathered Leaves, by Andrew Keatley. Feisal has been writing another script for three years, about the Mughal princess Jahanara, which will come on stage later in 2018. Ruined, a play by Lynn Nottage that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and revolves around women in the civil war-torn Congo, is being adapted to a Chhattisgarh location and titled Barbad. Feisal, who had directed 200 plays with adults and 100 with children over four decades, has also started to travel with his productions and visited Kathmandu, Bangalore and Hyderabad, among others. Goodbye Forever, a story of a woman, who has suddenly died, and her husband and her son, who do not know how to cope with her absence, was a part of the Theatre Olympics in Chennai and will be presented at the 130-year-old Gaiety Theatre in Shimla. Excerpts from an interview with Feisal:
As theatre in India becomes strongly political, your plays focus on personal relationships and family. Why is that?
That has been true for all my plays, from day one. The fulcrum of any society is the family and that is what we should understand is greater depth. When my father (legendary director and actor Ebrahim Alkazi) did Ashad ka Ek Din, it was about the artist and the state. Mine was more of Mallika’s story. There is a lovely line I have written for Jahanara, where Aurangzeb tells Dara, ‘Your problem is that you have no friends. You only rely on your family. India has changed and one of us is going to be the emperor. An emperor can’t rely just on his family’.
How is the family at the centre of one of your big productions of 2018, The Gathered Leaves?
The Gathered Leaves is by a British playwright and we have changed the names to Indian but kept every word of the dialogue. It is about three generations of an Indian family in Sunder Nagar in Delhi. The grandfather was an ICS and has three children. The eldest is a not-very-successful doctor but spends a lot of time looking after the youngest son, who is autistic. The middle child is a daughter, who was in JNU years ago, had an affair with an African guy, gave birth to a child without marrying and went off and never came back. This is the weekend that they are all returning with their children for the man’s 75th birthday. He has an something important to tell them.
We are doing it in three styles. We are opening at India Habitat Centre in a proscenium style and then we will present it, arena style, with the audience on four sides, at OddBird Theatre in Chhattarpur. We want to take the play into people’s drawing rooms. We have done intimate staging before but playing in a drawing room would be a first.
What is the theme of Jahanara?
I have done Noor, about Noor Jahan, in San Francisco and in India. I have written about the other woman who fascinated me in Mughal history, Jahanara. If Noor was ruthless and ambitious and became the empress, and Mumtaz Mahal approached life just the other way by being a conformist as well as a power behind the throne, Jahanara was a fascinating character, who played a strong role after her mother died. Shahjahan, for the rest of his life, was either in mourning or just not interested in the kingdom. The four characters of the play are Jahanara, who is at the centre, Roshanara, as a counterpoint to her, Aurangzeb, as a very interesting character in the play, and Dara, who is not willing to hunt or battle. The character of the eunuch, Nazakat, from Noor remains in this play, too, as the sutradhar.
Do you find yourself drawn to women at critical points in history?
I have never done a play that doesn’t have something strong to say to the audience. I think the fascination in all my plays has been women at the centre of conflict. Barbad is set in a brothel in Chhattisgrah, which is frequented by the Naxalites and the Indian Army.
You came under the radar of the establishment during the Emergency.
Two of my plays, Striptease and Rhinoceros, were banned during the Emergency. The police came and said, ‘Bas iske baad aap nahin kar sakte.’ Striptease, an adaptation of a Polish play, was with Alok Nath and Sanjeev Bhargava. It had two corporate guys, who are thrown into an empty space where everything is dictated to them by a hand — a woman’s hand. This play opened three days after the Emergency was declared. These guys are stripped of their clothes, dignity, what they stand for. Everything they rationalise and say, ‘It is ok, it is for our betterment’. In Rhinoceros, people are turning into rhinos.
A script we are working on that has a great political comment will be Bhagat Singh. There is so much in our immediate past, which is a strong comment on events of today. Bhagat Singh is not even 100 years ago. You look at different periods of Indian history or you look at it as a whole and you find that the resonances are recurrent.
Was it pre-decided that you would come into theatre, as the son of Ebrahim Alkazi?
For my father, also, it was pre-decided because he got involved with the family of the Padamsees, who were completely into theatre. In my family, right from the ’30s, every generation has seen rehearsals, big plays and actors and costumes being made at home. My grandmother’s house was like that, my parent’s house was like that, my house is like that and probably my children’s houses will be like that.
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