Ashish Sen revisits Ariel Dorfman’s Death And The Maiden 18 years later at the Season Twenty Twelve Jagriti Theatre Festival

Ariel Dorfman portrays the horrors of Pinochet’s Chile in his acclaimed play Death And The Maiden. The 1990 play is a political thriller portraying the devastating effects of power on the personal and the political. Inspired by the political events of 1970s and 1980s Chile and Argentina, Death And The Maiden finds resonance in other parts of the world.

Death And The MaidenThe play, whichwas adapted into a film by Roman Polanski, will run for 11 shows at Jagriti Theatre as part of its Season Twenty Twelve Festival.

Ashish Sen, the director, staged this play 18 years ago. “When I was approached to do direct a play for the Jagriti Theatre Festival, I decided on Dorfman’s Death And The Maiden because it resonates with the cause I work on and feel strongly about—freedom of expression.”

Sen says the play is as relevant today as it was 18 years earlier, when he had first directed it.

“It is a political thriller that portrays the difficult transition from dictatorship to democracy. One is faced with dilemmas of what is forgotten and what one has to reckon with. Truth and reconciliation are important, but not easy.”

The play is multi-layered, which questions social justice, gender politics and systemic inequalities. “We talk about justice at the personal level, but can we achieve it and at what cost? At the same time, the play implies that there are no easy, black-and-white answers.”

Paulina Salas, the protagonist, is torn between a personal trauma and sacrificing her principles for a greater cause.

“Women are on the one hand the keepers of memory and on the other, they have to deal with a history of oppression. Systemic inequalities make all of us schizophrenic; each of us has components of being oppressors and the oppressed.”

Sen says there are “no heroes or villains in this play, except perhaps history.” He has tried to “symbiotically combine the traditional and the contemporary”, which he has been done through the music. “The background score is Schubert’s String Quartet, we have included Sting’s They Dance Alone, which he composed as a tribute to the women of Chile.

“Dorfman is a powerful playwright of extreme dexterity. He is an activist, academic and playwright, and combines all through his pen,” says Sen.

Even though the play is set in Chile, “the point of the play,” Sen says, “is to trigger an understanding of a certain event. The animal may not be the same over here, but one will find a lot of parallels in contemporary India.”

Arundhati and Jagdish Raja, who performed in the same play 18 years ago, will perform Paulina and Gerardo Escobar, respectively. They will be joined by Salmin Sheriff who plays Roberto Miranda.

Death And The Maiden will be performed at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, till September 23, from Tuesday to Saturday, the play will be performed at 8 pm and on Sunday there will be two shows at 3 and 6.30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.bookmyshow.com and at the venue. For details call 41242879.