Why the play Six Characters in Search of an Author is a must-watch
The first time this play was performed, the audience rose in an uproar, shouting ‘Madhouse!’ There’s no other way to explain Six Characters in Search of an Author that has inspired actor-theatre director Trishla Patel who could not get the challenging script out of her head for the last two years. A decade short of a century, the Luigi Pirandello play is renowned for its play-within-a-play format.
The cast of the play, Six Characters in an animated pose Pics/Emmanual Karbhari
Patel simplifies it, “This play is about six characters who have been written incomplete and are looking for an author to help them realise their stories.” The play starts as a rehearsal about another of Pirandello’s plays but six unrelated characters enter the space disrupting the rehearsal. As soon as the director lends his ear to the grief of characters such as a father who tries to unknowingly buy sex from his stepdaughter , hell breaks loose. More so, as the stepdaughter claims that the father was in complete know while making the offer.
Conundrums such as these not only plagued the director but the 39-year-old effervescent Patel also felt “each day was a challenge” while approaching the theatre classic. It started when a friend gifted her a collection of Pirandello’s plays of which this script impressed her so much, that December 2013 it was on floors. Amongst an interesting cast of actors, she vouches for Benjamin Gilani as a big support for he is “a great actor and a keen observer of life. As I am acting in the play too, I would ask him to step out and tell her how portrayal was coming along,” Patel informs.
Gilani plays the role of the father who gets involved with his stepdaughter
The part was earlier offered to the thespian Naseeruddin Shah, given the challenging nature of the play. Shah had to give the play a miss as he was shooting for a film. “The entire cast would brainstorm every day to make sense of how to edit the play for the TV-generation audience,” recalls Patel. With a heady mix of prostitution, second marriage and incest, the play has also been known to be a rabble-rouser for its content. Patel is thankful “for having the smallest cast that she has ever worked with. They are only 14 while 30 is the usual number I work with,” she chuckles.
On February 21, 22 and 23, 7 pm
At Godrej Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.