Trapping Veronica

Jun 05, 2016, 12:03 IST | Phorum Dalal

As A third-year member of Verbum, Delhi University’s 10-year-old English dramatics society, it was time for Sahir Mehta to independently direct his first play. For this, the 25-member group got together to look for a script. We picture him, along with his friends, going through plays in their library.

Actors in Veronica’s Room
Actors in Veronica’s Room

“No way! We Googled top 10 plays to adapt,” laughs the 20-year-old, who will stage his play at Prithvi Theatre on June 7 and 8.

And, when one of his friends, who also acts in the play, suggested American novelist Ira Levin’s Veronica’s Room, the then president of Verbum wasn’t impressed. “There was too much masala in it, and the characters lacked a human touch. It lacked depth. I changed the timeline of the play, which was set in 1934 till 1972, to 1971 to 2009,” says Mehta, who changed the characters to “give them a three-dimensional feel.” He says, “I hope they are a lot more relatable now.”

Meeca of indian theatre
The play was first performed in October for Verbum’s senior students, and has been staged 15 times since then. “We’re excited to perform at the mecca of Indian theatre. Our society has been working hard for this.” But, directing the play with the added presidential responsibilities was not easy. “I was in charge of welcoming new students. I even cast some first-year actors, alongside seasoned ones. Directing your own play is about learning to mould yourself around your actors,” says Mehta.

Sahir Mehta

The plot
Lonely caretakers of the Carrasco mansion in Goa, the Salgaonkars, meet Aakash and Tara. Due to Tara’s resemblance to Veronica, their dead daughter, the caretakers convince her to pretend to be Veronica to solace her dying sister Michelle. Once dressed in Veronica’s clothes, Tara finds herself locked in Veronica’s role and room.
“The play walks a psychological tightrope. Is it her mind or the other whimsical characters playing a trick on her?” explains Mehta, who calls it an acting-based play, giving the example of Heath Ledger. “Actors who try too hard get trapped in their character to their own detriment. While one character is physically trapped in the room, others are trapped by circumstance and their emotions. There was room to explore a real human touch here, as everyone has had a feeling of being stuck and the consequent struggle to break free,” Mehta signs off.

WHEN: June 7 and 8, 9 pm
WHERE: Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu
ENTRY: Rs 175
CALL: 26149546

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