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A desperate housewife

The Indian adaptation of the renowned Canadian play The List, which premieres today at the NCPA, tells the story of a woman who resorts to making meticulous lists of her daily tasks in order to escape from her boring, middle-class life 

Take out garbage, check. Pay credit card bill, check. Do the laundry, check. Pick up kids after school, check. No, this is not a list of things that many of us end up doing on a daily basis, but an essential part of a critically-acclaimed Canadian play titled The List, which will have its Indian premiere today at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). The monologue tells the tale of an unnamed woman, who is lost in the boring humdrum of life and resorts to making lists to maintain her sanity. Written by Jennifer Tremblay, the production, which won the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada, has been staged in various parts across the world including Toronto, Vancouver, New York and the prestigious EdinburghFringe Festival.

(Above and below) Nikkesha Rangwala plays  the protagonist in The List. She essays the role of a  stay-at-home mother of three who encouraged her husband to move from the city to a small village in rural Quebec and now regrets it

The story starts off with the protagonist, a stay-at-home mother of three, who encouraged her husband to move from the city to a small village in rural Quebec and now regrets it. She feels guilty about the death of her neighbour, Caroline. She was asked to do Caroline a favour and she added it to one of her meticulous to-do lists, but never got around to it. She is afflicted with a condition known as ‘problem that has no name’ that American feminist and activist Betty Friedan had explored in a book The Feminine Mystique in 1963. It depicted the roles of women in industrial societies, especially full-time homemakers who feel trapped due to family responsibilities and duties and end up having no identity of their own.

Former journalist and playwright Rohini Bhatia Singh decided to adapt The List for Indian audiences after she read about the play while she was visiting Canada. She decided to approach Tremblay for copyright permissions and decided to stage it in India. Singh says, “The protagonist’s character is unveiled to the audience gradually through a series of lists. I loved the fact that the character is called ‘woman’ throughout the play and is, in a way, a metaphor for every woman. It has a universal theme that can appeal to people with diverse sensibilities. After all, the art of theatre is to create reel-life from the real life.” After unsuccessful attempts to cast Pooja Bedi and Ratna Pathak Shah for the lead role, Singh claims she decided to rope in newcomer Nikkesha Rangwala. Singer Tulsi Kumar also makes her theatre debut with this play. She has not only composed the music in collaboration with Singh but has also sung four songs including a regional Quebec song in French. Singh explains she hasn’t tweaked the script at all but added an Indian sensibility through dance, movement and classical music.

WHEN: January 26, 8 pm
WHERE: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point
CALL: 22824567, 66223724

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