A new perspective and a refreshing approach to the written text is what French theatre actor and director Maud Andrieux excels in. In India to present the play, Le Vice-Consul, a novel by French writer Marguerite Duras, on her birth centenary, Andrieux’s strategy is to keep the adaptation simple to reach a larger audience. “Duras’s life and work is inspiring as it is replete with struggles, love, pathos, strength, and determination,’’ says Andrieux.
French theatre company Compagnie du Barrage and Alliance Française present this play which is set in Kolkata and features three characters — Anne-Marie Stretter, the French ambassador’s wife, who seeks the love of younger men; the former Vice-Consul of Lahore, an awkward, solitary man prone to violent, irrational rages, who falls for her; and a mysterious Cambodian beggar woman, whose presence in India intrigues the Europeans , just as the woman herself seems drawn to them. Adapted, produced and performed by Andrieux, she says of Duras’s work, “Perspectives of the woman in her works, her childhood in Vietnam, struggle as a poor school teacher in Vietnam and then becoming one of the most famous novelists of France; her text is for many people. My theatre is inspired largely by her work. She had a strong voice and spoke strongly about women’s issues; that voice needs to be heard.”
Saigon-born Duras’s early novels were fairly conventional in form. Later, she became experimental, paring down her texts to emphasise what was not said. “I focus on theatrical adaptations of great writers. Through an intimate relationship with the audience, I help them understand the musicality of a text. The idea is to design the play in a way that it can travel easily and that the audience is encouraged to read the book after watching the performance,’’ says Andrieux. She is now working on a space that helps theatre directors adapt works of literary giants, and reach out to a larger world audience.
META-winning play comes to city
After receiving a thunderous response in Delhi last month where the play C Sharp C Blunt won over the jury of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) by bagging awards for Best Actor (Female), Best Original Script and Best Innovative Sound-Music Design, it will now be staged in the city this month.
The much-awaited play is based on Shilpa, an attractive and user-friendly mobile application that will do whatever she is asked. The solo interactive act is played by actor MD Pallavi where Shilpa sings and dances to the audience’s every demand, and “behaves exactly the way women are supposed to behave in the eyes of men; that is, until the next update is released”. Through Shilpa, the play questions traditional gender roles given by society and their behavioural expectations.
C Sharp C Blunt by German director Sophia Stepf that won at the Secondo Festival in Aarau/ Switzerland 2014 is an Indo-German collaboration and uses a hybrid form where theatre meets performance art: the script and Shilpa’s reactions change based on audience interaction. -EFS