The Indian adaptation of iconic European fairytale The Snow Queen, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1854, has been brought to India by the British Council in association with Trestle Theatre. Adapted by playwright Anupama Chandrashekhar, it will premiere at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) on August 14, 15 and 16.
The play traces the journey of lead protagonists, Gowri and Kumar, who live in a southern fishing hamlet in Kanyakumari. The Snow Queen arrives with a freak snowstorm and takes Kumar away to her ice palace in the Himalayas, compelling Gowri to set off in search of her beloved friend. Taking Gowri from Kanyakumari to the mountains of Kashmir, while visiting the backwaters of Kerala, glitzy Bollywood and the barren Chambal Hills en route, it discusses grief, bereavement, loyalty and conflict. It draws on influences from Indian mythology, cultures and topography, and comments on contemporary society.
“My challenge was to adapt a story with its own quirky logic into a play with a dramatic logic, and one that would work both as an Andersen classic and as an Indian play,” says Chandrashekhar.
“While working closely with Anupama when she started writing the play, I learnt about Indian mythology and the topical themes that reflect modern Indian life,” says Rosamunde Hutt, director, The Snow Queen, describing the experience as one of “absolute joy.”
She adds, “I spent a fortnight in India in 2011. That experience gave me hundreds of images to draw on when working on the scenes. Moreover, the British Asian cast shared stories of their parents and grandparents who were born here. This rich mix of ingredients has resulted in an exciting cultural exchange.”
“I am looking forward to talking to the audiences and hearing their responses. We hope they will leave the theatre discussing the power of the story and their favourite characters,” she concludes.
The Snow Queen
The original European fairytale is about childhood friends Kai and Gerda. The snow queen abducts Kai and takes him to her palace in the North Pole. Gerda sets off to free Kai from the Snow Queen’s magical spell. The story is about the struggle between good and evil