by Rituparna Mahapatra

PrithviDubai known for its vibrant cultural ambience was recently buzzing with the news of the iconic Prithvi Theatres coming to the city. Thus, with it came the frenzy to book tickets, for the repertoire of plays that would be matter for discussion at many following summer evenings.

This five day theatre festival brought by Raging Tigers was a landmark event in the social circle of Dubai. The theatre personalities that performed included stalwarts of Indian cinema and theatre such as Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, and Shabana Azmi. The plays chosen for the festival had been handpicked, said Kunal Kapoor, trustee of Prithvi Theatres. The festival opened with Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah in the acclaimed Jerome Kitty’s ‘Dear Liar’ adapted for the stage by the legendary Satyadev Dubey. The other plays selected were ‘White Lily and Knight Rider’, a play about the various dimensions of a male-female relationship in the digital world; ‘ Nothing Like Lear’ based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, the classic ‘Glass Menagerie’ and finally the immensely popular Urdu play ‘Kaifi Aur Main’, Shaukat Azmi’s memoirs on her husband poet Kaifi Azmi.

The play ‘Dear Liar’ particularly struck a chord, since the plot was on the dramatization of correspondence over a forty -year period between George Bernard Shaw and the celebrated actress Mrs Patrick Campbell, which began in late-Victorian London in 1899 and ended with the death of “Mrs Campbell” in France in 1940. A relationship intense and verbal that survived time and war and kept two immensely bright individuals bonded by letters. Only by rhetoric precisely. Writing a letter was an art, no less than art itself…now almost extinct.

The year was 1958. Prolific Hindi writer Mohan Rakesh had penned down a fictitious story on the mythological character of Kalidas. Ashadh Ka Ek Din was a three-part Hindi drama, where, contrary to the existing norms, Kalidas was not a mystic. He was a common man, living in Kashmir with his lover Mallika, leading an average family life. The play was a realist drama coupled with human emotions including rage, mirth and jealousy.

Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House, has acquired UK and Commonwealth Rights (exc. Canada) in a newly discovered novel by Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird.  The deal was struck with Andrew Nurnberg of Andrew Nurnberg Associates.  The novel will be published in hardback and as an ebook under the William Heinemann imprint, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The novel, which Lee titled Go Set a Watchman, will be published on 14th July 2015.

Harper Lee says, `In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.’

Fresh off a Pulitzer for Disgraced, Akhtar returns with a mordant play that explores similarities between free-market and Islamic fundamentalism: Amitav Kumar in The Guardian

The Invisible Hand
 Brutal charm: Usman Ally and Justin Kirk in The Invisible Hand. Photograph: Supplied

Ayad Akhtar’s new play The Invisible Hand opened this week at the New York Theatre Workshop. When the lights come on, you see a man sitting in a chair while close to him stands a bearded guard with a Kalashnikov strapped to his back. The seated man is an American banker being held by jihadists somewhere near Karachi. In the opening scene, the prisoner is holding out his hands for the other man to clip his nails, which the latter accomplishes not without some tenderness.

GitanjaliBeing one of Singapore’s most prominent authors, The Necessary Stage’s (TNS) resident playwright Haresh Sharma is no stranger to breaking new ground and creating works which question the notion of an ideal Singaporean. In plays such as Off Centre and Good People, his protagonists were mental patients and drug addicts. In the recently staged Poor Thing, he featured the immensely ugly side of Singaporeans.

Although Sharma’s latest work-Gitanjali [I feel the earth move]-deviates in that the focal point shifts from Singaporean to more universal themes, the play still represents a pushing of boundaries. As an interdisplinary and intercultural production, the challenge is to merge different artistic forms such as classical Indian dance, drama and music.