Manav Kaul's 'Park' will be staged at Kerala Fine Arts Hall on May 22

There are several layers to 'Park', a play by Manav Kaul. On a simplistic level it is a comedy about three men in a park fighting for their place; there are three benches but not enough. The play touches upon that thing which is at a premium these days – space – literally and metaphorically. What starts of as light hearted banter evolves into a serious conflict about space, territory and ownership. These become the main issues. Park can be many things; it can be a metaphor for home.

Doodlebug Events brings this critically acclaimed, multi-layered play to Kochi.

Manav Kaul, who writes in Hindi, has been hailed as an important voice in contemporary Indian theatre. His first play ‘Shakkar Ke Paanch Daane' won him rave reviews and critical acclaim. He has also written and directed ‘ Peele Scooter Wala', ‘Bali Aur Shambu', ‘Ilhaam', ‘Park' and ‘ Aisa Kehte Hain'. ‘Park' premiered at Prithvi Theatre (Mumbai) in 2009.

In translation

‘Park' was originally written in Hindi and then translated by Deepa Gehlot into English. One would think that it would be difficult for a playwright who writes in the vernacular to convey the preoccupations of an English speaking character. After all, such a character's experiences could be construed as being different. “Not so,” says Manav in an e-mail interview, further explaining, “The preoccupations of experimental theatre in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and other vernacular language theatre all over India are the same. They are grappling with issues of space, stability, finances etc. If we are talking of Indian English theatre as English plays written by Indian playwrights then that too becomes vernacular Indian theatre, does it not? Then how are their preoccupations any different from the rest of the country? If you take a Gujarati experimental script, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi or any other experimental script and translate it into English (like ‘Park' was done), it will all work the same way.”

Since 'Park' is a play that has been translated from Hindi it would be logical to ponder about the whether or not an idea works. After all what works in Hindi may not work in English and vice versa. Manav, however, had no apprehensions about the play not working or of the play losing its essence in translation. “That I think is very, very subject specific. If the play is talking [sic] about something that works only for the Hindi diaspora, then it will not work in anything other than in Hindi – be it English or any other language. But it just so happens that in India, the ‘vernacular' language and English language divide is also an urban rural divide, also an economic difference. So the problem of it working or not working becomes more poignant. But it also depends on how culture or subject specific you choose to make a play. That is the magic of adaptation, no?” says Manav.

What about the lost nuances? “I felt no such fear with 'Park'. It is different from my other plays. Language is not poetic; it is direct, pragmatic and ‘socially relevant'. It deals with a problem of space, which is unfortunately universal,” he concludes.

Park will be staged at Kerala Fine Arts Hall on May 22 at 6.30 p.m. For more details contact: 8089351304