TS Eliot never intended his seminal work The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock for the stage. Yet, the poem that he is most famous for — alongside The Waste Land — is full of references to “half-deserted streets”, dismal landscapes and people who have measured out “life with coffee spoons”. It’s a world that non-traditional theatre directors and actors would enjoy. Today, director Neel Sengupta and his group, Third Space Collective, will present their adaptation of the poem, through a play titled Love, Prufrock with actors Dhwani Vij, Anannya Tripathyi and Rahul Tewari channelling their inner Prufrock in the 21st century.
“We look at our urban structures and how it leads to a tussle with the actors. Each actor explores the feeling of emotional ambiguity that defines Prufrock in different spaces such as a mall, metro or a pub,” says Sengupta. From trying on clothes in a mall to engaging with mannequins with their well-toned bodies, the three Prufrocks — including two women in this anti-gender casting — are made constantly aware that they are a part of a larger scheme of things. In the Metro scene, an actor is sucked into the crowd and disappears in the surging mass of humanity. In another, an actor stands amid the structures of a mall and gulps in large quantities of air in an attempt to become bigger to accommodate the structures around him.
“The performing space is a box covered with a plastic sheet, made of PVC pipes and bubble wraps,” he adds. Most of the sounds are made by the actors but Sound Designer Neel Chaudhuri has has made recordings of people breathing and vocal noises. LEDs placed around the box light up, giving the illusion of being caught in a structure.
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