A peek at How To Skin A Giraffe that’s part of The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest

Venue: Ravindra Bharathi

Date and Time: August 24, 7.30 p.m.

The cast and crew of Perch and Rafiki, theatre groups from Chennai and Bangalore, join theatre professionals around the world in celebrating the 200th birthday of German playwright Georg Büchner with their production How To Skin A Giraffe . It was the Goethe Institute that planted the seeds for this production, after the groups’ first outing with Miss Meena , an adaptation of The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt. “Initially, we wanted to stage an adaptation of his, Leonce And Lena . It is one of the lesser performed comedies of Büchner,” says Rajiv Krishnan, director of the play. His plan was to present a play that looked like the old ‘ company nadagams ’ of Madras. “But what seemed like a simple comedy, at first, turned out to be a multi-layered play.” Leonce And Lena is a social commentary on the nobility of Büchner’s times, their indifference to the sufferings of people around them and also about those people who were subservient without questioning those above them. It talks about how all people are puppets. We didn’t think we could do a company nadagam with the adaptation. So, we scrapped the plan and decided to go with our own play inspired by Leonce And Lena .”

Perch created the entire play and invited actors from Rafiki, a theatre group from Bengaluru. “Six actors in the play are from Rafiki, and the rest are from Perch,” Rajiv says. While How To Skin A Giraffe draws heavily from Büchner’s original, it is not a verbatim adaptation. The play is about two people who are about to be married off to each other; one is the son of a king and the other the daughter of a business magnate. The two rebel against this decision taken by their parents, and run away from home only to run into each other without knowing who the other is. “I know it sounds like a Bollywood story, but the play is much more than what it seems like. It is a commentary on life and how automated it has become,” Rajiv offers. “It’s about power and control, and there is a lot of absurdity too. Büchner was influential in the sense that his words were simple but very poetic. Like all our other plays, this one too is multi-lingual. Besides English, we have six other languages, including Nepali in How To Skin A Giraffe ,” he says. That’s because once a visual structure for the play was arrived at, the actors in the play wrote all their lines themselves.