The ‘Success' team, touring India for the first time, discovers how the universal language of theatre bridges cultural gaps. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo tunes in
John Kishline, his wife Deborah Clifton, their son Sam Kishline, and Edward Morgan confess to being both excited and apprehensive initially at the thought of touring India with their production, Success. They were excited to stage their production to a vibrant theatre-loving audience in the country but also a bit apprehensive about whether it would strike a chord with them. Kriti, the sole Indian in the team, helped to offer a window to the cultural milieu. “Hyderabad is our last stop. We performed in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and The Hindu Metroplus Theatre Fest in Chennai before arriving here,” informs Kriti Pant, talking to us over a cup of coffee at Marriott.
The play Success, conceptualised in 1990, has changed over the years in content, characters and actors, reflecting the changes in geo-political situations the world over. “Twenty years ago, I played a character where I was running for the President of El Salvador, which was then just getting rid of dictatorship and moving towards democracy. Today, I am running for the President of Egypt,” says Deborah. John Kishline chips in, “In the original play, Kriti's character was a young American. In this edition of the play that has been specially produced for India, Kriti represents the Indian Diaspora.”
Kriti and Sam are the younger members of the team, learning with each staging of the production. Sam, who graduated in Fine Arts a year ago, states, “Mine was a comprehensive course and we did 50 to 60 productions in college. But I learnt a lot more travelling with this team than I did in college.” As stage manager for the tour, he has had his hands full, ensuring everything goes right. In years to come, he sees himself becoming an all rounder, like his parents.
Kriti, on her part, began dabbling in theatre out of interest and has never looked back. “I started doing theatre while in college; I liked it and gave myself a year to build up a semblance of a portfolio. Four years on, I still love the work,” she says. She will be visiting the US with the team to stage the play there. She has also worked with the theatre group, The Tadpole Repertory.
The team has had a packed schedule all along. Even before staging the play this evening, the team was busy with Deborah's workshop for theatre enthusiasts in the city. She and Morgan had conducted workshops for students in Chennai and Mumbai as well.
As a parting shot, the team shares how their initial apprehensions of health issues and clichéd images of India with its poverty, spiritual leanings and overwhelming traffic have been replaced by the understanding of how performing arts can speak a universal language. “As people, we are all different and yet quite similar,” says Deborah. Morgan states on a lighter note, “On entering Hyderabad I saw huge billboards of the theatre fest with my photograph. I wish my mom could see this. She'd be happy.”
This play comes to town with the support of the U.S. Consulate, Hyderabad.