The play,Boy With A Suitcase,is the result of a three-year long Indo-German collaboration between two theatres
The lead-up to the production of the play Boy With A Suitcase has been so intensive,that one may not understand the gravity of the drama fully without first knowing of the preparations. The play stays true to the story of the same name penned by British playwright,Mike Kenny,and presents the idea of homelessness in a world ruled by local and international migration.
The idea for the project came about when the German children’s play,Robinson and Crusoe,was showcased at Bengaluru’s Rangashankara Theatre. An idea of a collaboration then found its way to the Wanderlust Programme of the Federal Republic of Germany,which grants funds for theatrical partnerships between countries,artists and disciplines. The Rangashankara and the National Theatre Manheim,Germany,teams put forth a proposal titled,’Do I Know You?’ “We named it so because it was more than just about doing a play,it was also about whether we know each other,” says Arundhati Nag of Rangashankara. “It is a generous fund,through which we have been able to pay the fine actors in the play,” she adds.
Famed German theatre director Andrea Gronemeyer,who also helmed Robinson and Crusoe,found the Kenny play in the process of researching for a script for the collaboration,and the idea of immigration struck a chord amongst the Indo-German cast instantly. Two Indian actors were roped in through auditions held in Bengaluru to join the three German actors of the play. The cast stayed together and rehearsed at Nrityagram in Bengaluru while in India,and also spent 20 days rehearsing in Germany. “We wanted the collaboration to be organic; we wanted to get into the blood and the bones of the matter,” says Kirtana Kumar,assistant director and dramator for the play. “We wanted to really delve in the approaches to theatre-making.”
The play,though largely in English,aims to emphasise the linguistic and cultural contradictions that migration entails. The opening montage features a smattering of many languages to stress on this point. But the play never comes clean on which country is it playing out in. “We have kept it really open. It is for the audiences to decide which country it is,” says Kumar.
The play has had 30 showcasings in Germany and India since opening in April last year,and a 15-show Indian tour will travel to Mumbai,Chennai,Pune and Bengaluru in this year. Following the Indian leg of shows,it will travel back to Manheim and also perform at Stuttgart later. The play would have had 60 shows by the time the project will wrap up. But the most cherished take-back of the team would be the journey that they undertook together. “It has been a very big learning. We learnt the Germans’ attitute towards costuming,dialogues and more. While the Germans were shocked by our lack of structure,by how we smile in the midst of a crisis,” laughs Nag.
(Boy With A Suitcase will be showcased on Wednesday,April 25,at Smt Shakuntala Jagganath Shetty Auditorium,Kannada Sangha,in Ganeshnagar,at 7 pm)