14 stories around one dining table

Published on 26 December, 2014 in Mint

Theatre veteran Feisal Alkazi’s Ruchika Theatre Group will present American playwright A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room, the second of four plays in their series Razor Sharp: Provocative Plays From Around The World. T he Dining Room was first performed on 31 January 1982.

“The Dining Room speaks of many things like the passing of life, the new order, break-ups within families, changing gender roles and disappearing values. All this is relevant in the present day as well. We wanted to come up with something new, something that hadn’t been done before. That’s when we launched this series with four plays—one British, one American, one Russian and one Chinese,” says Alkazi.

The Razor Sharp series began in July with a performance of British playwright Martin Crimp’s Attempts On Her Life, a post-modern play about pornography and ethnic violence. The Dining Room is the second in the series. Chinese author Ma Jian’s novel The Dark Road, about China’s one-child policy, will be the third production. Russian journalist and writer Vladimir Gubarev’s Sarcophagus: A Tragedy, a play based on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, will be the fourth play. Alkazi selects the plays himself.

The Dining Room has a cast of nine actors who play 32 parts in 14 different stories around one dining table. It tackles both light-hearted moments and poignant ones with ease. Two siblings enter the dining room and start arguing about who will take the dining table left behind by their mother; a strict father instructs his son and daughter to observe breakfast-table manners; an irritated husband yells at his wife for using the dining table, his family’s prized heirloom, to do her term paper; and a woman with Alzheimer’s can no longer recall the grand Thanksgiving feast she used to share with her husband and sons.

There’s wit and affection in the way people comprehend the manners and mores associated with the dining room. The 14 stories are disconnected, what binds them together is the dining room setting, which remains unchanged. “These are all visual enactments with 12-14 rehearsals, complete with costumes, make-up, light and music,” adds Alkazi.

The Dining Room will be staged on 27 December, 6.30pm, at CD Deshmukh Auditorium, India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, Lodi Estate (24619431). Seating on first-come, first-served basis. For details, visit http://www.iicdelhi.nic.in


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