Theatre fans, prepare to park yourself in Juhu for two weeks starting Tuesday, November 5. That’s when the 2013 edition of the annual Prithvi Theatre Festival gets underway. Unlike previous editions, this year’s festival has no theme. Instead audiences will get to see a set of mostly new plays. Of the dozen productions that make up the roster, ten will premiere at the festival. Aside from the plays, events include StageTalk@Prithvi, a series of conversations between journalist Pragya Tiwari and theatre directors Atul Kumar, Quasar Thakore Padamsee and Sunil Shanbag; a chamber music concert by members of the Symphony Orchestra of India; and acoustic jam sessions with Vivienne Pocha, Merlin D’Souza, Shruti Bhave, Hamsika Iyer, Ranjit Barot and Taufiq Qureshi. Here’s a round-up of the plays that will feature at the fest:
Salesman Ramlal (Hindi)
The festival will open with the revival of an old play – director Feroz Abbas Khan’s Salesman Ramlal, a Hindi version of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which was first performed in 1997. Film actor Satish Kaushik plays the titular salesman, in the drama about a family falling apart beneath the weight of paternal expectations and individual failure.
Wednesday, November 6, at 6pm and 9pm.
As the title suggests, director Hidayat Sami’s play is about the Lucknowi courtesan from Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa’s novel Umrao Jaan Ada. Just as the English annexe Oudh, the courtesan decides to leave the safety of her kotha to seek a new life.
Thursday, November 7, at 6pm and 9pm.
Rashomon Blues (Hindi)
An adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Rashomon, director Bijon Mondal’s play is set in modern day Mumbai. A couple is murdered but each of the four witnesses has a different version of the events, making it difficult to ascertain the truth.
Friday, November 8, at 6pm and 9pm.
The Glass Menagerie (English)
Rajit Kapur directs Tennessee Williams’s drama about loss and longing for the past. Amanda, whose husband has left her, finds solace in happy memories of a time when she had no dearth of male admirers. She has two children: Laura, her crippled daughter who spends her days with her menagerie of glass animals, and Tom, a poet keen for a life away from the sadness that pervades his home.
Saturday, November 9, at 6pm and 9pm.
Master Madam (Gujarati)
Theatre director Manoj Shah, who’s known for his eclectic choice of plays, will present a Gujarati version of the seventh-century Sanskrit farce Bhagavadajjukam, in which a monk and a courtesan swap souls.
Sunday, November 10, at 6pm and 9pm.
The Tenth Head (English)
The Tenth Head, by Pondicherry-based theatre group Adishakti, hinges on the character of Ravana, who is good and evil in equal measure. In the play, nine of Ravana’s heads live peaceably among each other sharing a view of the world, but his tenth head is something of a rebel.
Tuesday, November 12, at 6pm and 9pm.
Hanumana Ramayana and Nidravathwam (English and Malayalam)
Adishakti will also perform a duo of plays Hanumana Ramayana and Nidravathwam. While the former is about the monkey god’s role in the Ramayana, the latter is a conversation between Kumbakarna and Lakshman about their extraordinary sleep cycles.
Wednesday, November 13, at 6pm and 9pm.
The University of Pune’s Lalit Kala Kendra will stage a Marathi version of Bertolt Brecht’s classic play The Caucasian Chalk Circle, in which two farming collectives in the Soviet Union fight over who gets to manage a piece of land that the retreating Nazis have abandoned.
Thursday, November 14, at 6pm and 9pm.
Kolkata-based theatre group Padatik will perform Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Atmakatha starring Kulbhushan Kharbanda, who plays a famous writer. Interrogated by a scribe helping him write his autobiography, the writer makes some unflattering revelations about himself.
Friday, November 15, at 6pm and 9pm.
If you’ve somehow managed to miss this superb performance directed by Delhi’s Mahmood Farooqui that has been to Mumbai several times over the years, then make sure you catch it this time. The cast will tell three stories, two of which are from the Urdu epic Tilism-e-Hoshruba in which Amar Aiyyar rescues his friend Amir Hamza’s grandson from the clutches of Afrasiyab, the evil ruler of Hoshruba. The third story is of the tragedy of Partition told in the narrative style of dastangoi.
Saturday, November 16, at 6pm and 9pm.
Spend the afternoon and evening at Prithvi Theatre watching three musical carnivals, which have been directed by Sunil Shanbag (3pm), Nadira Zaheer Babbar (6pm) and the group Prithviwallahs (9pm).
Sunday, November 17.
Dear Liar (English)
The festival closes with Motley’s long-running production starring Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah. Shah plays George Bernard Shaw and Pathak Shah the writer’s muse, early 20th century actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell. The pair exchange a series of witty, poignant letters that reveal a great deal about the playwright and his time.
Sunday, November 18, at 8pm.