Stroll down Quality Street

The Park's New Festival comes to Mumbai in its fifth year with performances from across the country. Today, watch Delhi-based theatre personality Maya Krishna Rao in Nigerian playwright Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Quality Street

Take a mother-daughter squabble. Stir in two vastly different continents (America and Africa) and their sensibilities, respectively.

Add a generous dose of Kathakali-inspired fantasmagorical elements. Sprinkle a bit of rap and live music. What you have now is a carefully created version of award-winning Nigerian playwright Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Quality Street by Maya Krishna Rao, a danseuse, theatre person and educationist.

When we manage to catch hold of her, Delhi based Rao is, justifiably, worried about being able to fly out of the capital that is besieged by hostile forces yet again.

The torrential downpour in Delhi has not (thankfully) been able to dampen Rao's enthusiasm to perform in Mumbai after a gap of nearly three years.

While on her way to the airport, she fills us in on what made her take up Quality Street for performance. "I looked through a lot of literature that was emerging out of the Commonwealth countries.

Usually, postcolonial literature has a lot of pain, exploitation and suffering but I was looking for something different.

That's when I chanced upon this delightful play, which is essentially about a mother from Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, and daughter, who has just returned from America," Rao explains. The organisers of the Commonwealth Games, 2010, commissioned the play for performance during the opening ceremony.

Initially, Rao planned to adapt the play into a more localised setting but soon dropped the plan. She believes the relationship between Ms Njoku and her daughter, Sochienne, is something audiences would find a link with regardless of their background.

"Essentially, the audience includes either parents or single people who have recently come out of adolescence like the mother and daughter in the play. Within the first five minutes of the play, everybody realises what the situation is and which of the two characters they connect to," says Rao, who has chosen to present the play as a one-person performance.

Unlike most of her plays, Quality Street is very real. But it's a Maya Krishna Rao production after all, and so elements of Kathakali and music take it to another plane.

Rao confirms what the stills of the play show "The acting is slightly over the top" plus live music by the sound designer Samar Grewal, costumes by Sabaina Jerchewsky (who also helped Rao research the play) and rap songs push the play somewhat away from reality. "It feels foreign but the situation is something we've all experienced," Rao reinstates.

On Today, 6 pm
at Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call 22824567 Tickets Rs 300,
Rs 250, Rs 200

Make Space and Songs to Live For
On the last day of The Park's New Festival, choreographer Parijat Desai will present two performances titled Make Space and Songs To Live For.

Set to electronic music by South Asian American artists, Make Space rewires the sculptural positions of Indian dance using dynamic modern dance, and remixes classical footwork rhythms.

In Songs To Live For, Desai explores sublime Hindustani love songs, but she brings a completely new dance style that blends the full-bodied movement and partnering from Western contemporary dance with subtle Indian classical gesture.
On September 12, 7 pm
at Experimental Theatre, NCPA. entry Free

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