The class war
After doing the rounds of theatre festivals across India, including the Hindu Metroplus Theatre Festival in Bangalore, Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Festival in Hyderabad and Bharat Rang Mahotsav (NSD Theatre Festival, Delhi), Katyayani Productions’ play, Miss Julie, is now being staged in the city.
A scene from the play Miss Julie, featuring Vidushi Mehra and Damandeep Sidhu
The classic play was written in 1888 by August Strindberg, and revolves around a party in the house of a Count, where his daughter, Miss Julie, finds herself drawn into a sexual relationship with her valet Jean.
Over the course of the play, Miss Julie and Jean battle for control, with Julie growing hysterical at the thought of facing her aristocratic father after having slept with Jean. The valet is equally terrified of facing his master’s ire and comes up with a diabolical solution.
The cast consists of three Delhi-based actors: Vidushi Mehra, Damandeep Sidhu and Arti Nayar. Theatre veteran Sohaila Kapur has directed the frugal cast and crew of six members. Kapur, herself, has designed the sets and will be operating the lights as well.
Miss Julie opened in 2012 with funding from the Swedish Embassy to mark Strindberg’s 100th death anniversary. Speaking about the play, actress Vidushi Mehra, who essays the role of Miss Julie, says, “It’s a period drama that plays off the power and class struggles between a man and a woman. Even though the play is a classic, the sentimentality, the nuances and the dynamic relationship between the genders are relevant even today.”
Mehra adds that no changes were made to the script of the new play as they felt the drama revolves around themes that are commonly found even in modern times.
As a naturalist play, Miss Julie stays akin to reality through the use of three-dimensional settings, common speech forms and a focus on subjects that are contemporary.
While commenting on her role, Mehra states, “The three-character play boasts of an expanse of ideas. It is simply written, yet powerfully felt. Miss Julie is a highly complex role, it draws upon the naturalism era; the character is raw, confused about her sexuality, and volatile. Playing these emotions took a lot of hard work, dedication and stamina. It has been regarded as one of the toughest roles for stage, by critics world over.”
While the play may have been written in the 19th century, the topic remains relevant even today, as Mehra sums up, “Miss Julie is an extremely identifiable script that will enrapt people right from the start. It’s about the ‘dark side of love’; a tale of the battle between the classes and sexes, producing a vivid tapestry of struggle, which is universal and perennial.”
On: September 26, 7 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.