Transcending Boundarieshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/transcending-boundaries-2/

Transcending Boundaries

Grips Theatre’s upcoming play deals with the issue of cultural disparities and similarities.

Grips Theatre’s upcoming play deals with the issue of cultural disparities and similarities.

It was a collaboration that began with an idea,followed up by emails and ending up transcending boundaries across Europe and Asia. Noted Marathi actor Vibhawari Deshpande,along with writer-director Shrirang Godbole,had always toyed with the idea of working with a theme that will showcase the disparity yet bring out the similarities and quirks of different cultures. So when they came across German playwright,actor and director Lutz Hübner who had similar thoughts,they decided to collaborate for a project.

The Indo-German play,with the working title Atithi Devo Bhava,is a result of their interaction between November 2011 and now,among these three theatre artistes. The play will also celebrate Grips Theatre’s 25 years in India. It was started in Berlin,Germany,to offer a new perspective to children’s theatre and was launched in Pune in 1986,under the guidance of veteran actor Mohan Agashe. Since then,it has gained appreciation and popularity in Pune as well as across India. Deshpande has earlier worked with Grips Theatre,with plays such as Project Aditi and Gayab Geet.

Deshpande,who is co-directing the play along with Godbole,says,“Despite the distance and language barrier,I’m happy about the way we were able to put everyone’s thoughts together.” Deshpande is known for her portrayal of Saraswati Phalke,Dadasaheb Phalke’s wife in the noted Marathi film Harishchandrachi Factory.

Atithi Devo Bhava revolves around the story of a German student who comes to India on an exchange programme. He comes and stays with a typical Maharashtrian family who has a young daughter of his age. “The play dissects the dynamics between him and the family,particularly the young girl. At first,the family resists him because they were expecting a girl,who drops out at the last minute because of an illness,” explains Deshpande. “The young Maharashtrian girl initially hates him — there are just too many cultural differences. But then,slowly,she gets to know him,” says Deshpande,adding that the two-hour-long play will staged in Marathi and English,with a smattering of German.

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The play will also be staged in Berlin,early next year,informs Deshpande. With a young cast from the Grips’ stable,Deshpande is excited about taking it to Pune,some time mid-May. The music for the play will has been created by Rahul Ranade.