I had to surrender, says director Roysten Abel

Friday, 23 March 2007 - 11:49pm IST

Girish Karnad's play, Flowers, explores his familiar terrain. It deals with the dilemma of a priest trapped between his love for his God, his wife and his mistress.

Pragya Tewari speaks to Roysten Abel, director of Flowers.

Girish Karnad's play Flowers explores his familiar terrain — myths and legends. It deals with the dilemma of a priest trapped between his love for his God, his wife and his mistress. The play is a monologue with no exits, though minimalism is hardly what one expects from Roysten Abel’s work. His most famous works have large casts and a distinct streak of the spectacular.

Abel admits the format was challenging: “I did not have too many options, with just one actor to create an entire universe. Without a larger cast off whom to bounce ideas, it was frustrating. But I had to be patient and wait for things to emerge.”

In the past Abel has often thrown out the original script, retaining only its essence. He transported Othello from a kingdom to a playhouse to etch out the politics of art and the ever-blurring limits between reality and fiction.

Similarly Ladki Seedhi Rahegi evolved from Moliere's School For Wives. The Diary Of Anne Frank became The Spirit Of Anne Frank, post-Godhra. “This is the first time I have stuck to the original script for a play”, Abel confesses, “this is a contemporary Indian script not open to adaptation, so I had to work by surrendering to it.”

Abel feels Indian theatre was more modern than European theatre was 500 years ago, so imitating what is progressive for Europe, is regressive for us. “Indian theatre is as rich in soul as any other. But in order to be truly modern, we must go back and then beyond,” he says.

He believes the greatest challenge for theatre is to live up to the expectations of modernisation. “Theatre can generate a lot of positive energy and facilitate dialogue between the audience and participants. But today money is centered in the hands of a few, and the future of theatre depends on their vision. If there is independent thought, theatre will survive.” he signs off.

Flowers, at Prithvi Theatre, ongoing till March 25.

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