Award-winning Iranian playwright to stage two plays in India

Updated: Nov 17, 2016, 12:04 IST | Suprita Mitter

Award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour will stage two of his plays in India for the first time as part of a literary festival

An earlier show of White Rabbit Red RabbitAn earlier show of White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Interactive theatre, where an audience member gets to play a character in a scene seems to be one of the key ways to lure a younger audience to sample a play. Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour has to his credit one such masterpiece. Having been performed in a variety of languages across the world, a Hindi version of the play White Rabbit Red Rabbit will now be staged in the city for the first time. Slyly humorous and audaciously pointed, this theatre-meets-social-experiment initiative claims to be unlike anything you’ve seen. The Hindi version will be performed by filmmaker-actor Anurag Kashyap.

Anurag Kashyap
Anurag Kashyap

“The idea of the play strangely began with a nightmare in my twenties where I kill myself onstage in front of an audience, which included my parents. I wrote seven drafts in six years, a long journey before publishing the play,” says Soleimanpour, who will also visit Mumbai for the first time. “As part of the play, my e-mail address is revealed in the middle of every show and the audience is asked to send me photos and e-mails about the show. There was a Marathi version of the play performed in Pune recently,” he adds.

Nassim Soleimanpour
Nassim Soleimanpour

The 70-minute play is sealed inside an envelope. The actor who will perform this does not get to see or read the script before. In fact, there is a new actor for every performance. “The performance is a theatrical experiment and a reminder of the transgressive and transformative power of theatre. The actor walks onto the stage, and then proceeds to read the writer’s words to the audience. The performer and audience discover the writer’s text together for the first time,” says Soleimanpour. “No two shows are ever alike. Each performance is unique and never witnessed again, because the actor is not allowed to perform this again,” he adds.

Soleimanpour’s second play titled Blank, which will also open at the literature festival, has nothing usual about it either. “It was written continuing the formal experiment I did with White Rabbit Red Rabbit. It reverses the typical theatre experience: A script riddled with blanks leaves the audience in charge of how a new story will unfold. In a joint effort between the audience and performer, the gaps in the script are filled in to reveal a story that celebrates the human imagination. The result is nothing short of empowering, as a random audience member sees his or her future determined by the imagination of others,” shares Soleimanpour.

Noted actors like Jacob Derwig, Kevin Spacey, David Morse and Juliet Stevenson have performed the play in the past. At its premiere in India, Raghu Karnad will enthral the audience with this new-age genre of theatre. While he hasn’t seen much of Indian theatre, Soleimanpour is eager about his maiden visit. “I’ll definitely try to see as much as possible and I'll be all ears and eyes,” he signs off.

On: November 19, 6.30 pm
At: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
Call: 26149546

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
On: November 20, 5pm
At: Godrej Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Call: 66223754

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