Creating the banks of the river Sarayu or Nallappa's Mango grove and other landscapes of Malgudi based on R.K. Narayan's imagination can be quite a complex task when the medium of expression is theatre. Packing R.K. Narayan's imagination onto a stage space can be quite challenging.
As part of the stage adaptation of Swami and Friends, R.K. Narayan's first novel, we've tried to recreate Malgudi spatially through levels, colours and by embracing the moods of the landscapes through lighting and costume. A few weeks ago, I met Arundhati Nag at Rangashankara and was telling her about the adaptation process. Ver early into the conversation, she said "If you start creating every detail of Malgudi through its props and objects, you will get lost! Just try and get the colors, moods and patterns right" This thought was motivating, given that the process had begun in trying to capture the essence of Malgudi, its colours spaces and landscapes through the body in the space.
Each of us have a unique interpretation of what Malgudi means to us. The fact that Narayan created a fictional town was so that it could be personal to the reader based on their own upbringing and childhood times. That's what still keeps Malgudi alive for us, in different ways. Narayan's writing transports us into another world, into another time and he manages to do so effortlessly. That's also what makes Malgudi so memorable.
Swami and Friends will be staged at the Jagriti Season this year, starting Oct 2nd. We invite you to come experience Malgudi.
In this blog space, we talk about performance processes, interdisciplinary practices and various ways of creating performance and engaging audiences.