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Russian play, The Dragon, to be staged in Mumbai

Banned by the post-war Stalin government for its anti-authoritarian themes, Russian playwright Evgeny Shvartz’s controversial play, The Dragon  will now be staged in Hindi by The Drama School

The plot of Russian playwright Evgeny Shvartz’s play, The Dragon, revolved around a bad dragon who ruled over a town for 400 years and now has his eyes set on its loveliest maiden. A well-travelled young man emerges, who is on a mission to save the town and deliver them from their plight. However, the problem emerges from the fact that the people don’t wish to be saved. The play borrowed from fairytales and folklore to create a comic conundrum about power and oppression that remains valid even today.

The Dragon

This play, with multiple narratives and a universal theme, will be retold in Hindi as Bahar Daanav Dus Ya Sau, Bheetar Mare Toh Phoote Pau! To be staged by The Drama School, Mumbai it has been directed by Tushar Pandey, who has trained at the National School of Drama, New Delhi and the London International School of Performing Arts.

Scenes from The Dragon
Scenes from The Dragon

Founded by theatre professionals in 2013, The Drama School, Mumbai brought 18 faculty members together to train 16 students in acting, theatre theory, and devising and direction in its first year. This year, 13 students from across the country have trained with 25 faculty members for six months.

Tushar Pandey elaborates on the plot, “This play was banned after its first performance in post-war Stalin’s Russia, for its anti-authoritarian themes. What we are exploring is the concept of submission: what it is in us that surrenders so quickly.”

He adds that The Dragon touches upon inter-related concepts such as leadership, power, and the mechanics of it. “While the issues are universal, they’re especially relevant now as the world and our country is undergoing tremendous changes. But we don’t want to highlight a particular issue,” he emphasises.

Pandey admits that the main change he brought into this production is the note on which the play ends. “Shvartz’s text is rooted in a specific time and context and reflects closure. I have interpreted the script to leave on a more uncertain note. This is done in the third act, which is not just different performance-wise, but conceptually as well. The current script is technically twice removed from the original — it’s a Hindi translation of an English translation of a Russian script,” he says.

Pandey chose Hindi as the language to stage the play because the students were most comfortable with it. “It also makes the play more accessible to the audience,” he felt.

On: February 12 (6 pm), February 13 (6 pm and 9 pm) and February 19 (6 pm and 9 pm) 
At: Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Girgaum, Charni Road (E).
Cost: Rs 150 for general public; Rs 100 for students and senior citizens

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