Theatre

Breaking the fourth wall in Greek tragedy

In session: A rehearsal of Medea ; (below) Ira Khan

In session: A rehearsal of Medea ; (below) Ira Khan  

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In her debut as a theatre director, Ira Khan recreates a classic that is both experimental and intimate

While working backstage for Faezah Jalali’s play Shikhandi, the 21-year-old theatre director Ira Khan was toying with the idea of recreating Euripides’ Medea on-stage. As a student, Khan had performed the play in school and was convinced that this was going to be her debut as a director. She knew she wanted to recreate a classic but on an intimate scale.

Ira believes that theatre in Mumbai is a good mix of "experimental and small". Medea fit the bill in both regards. "There are not many classics like that,” observes the 21-year-old daughter of actor Aamir Khan. Ira was clear that she didn't want a large audience so that the actors can make eye contact with all audience members, even the backbenchers. “Else the play will fall flat,” she says. “There’s a lot of breaking the fourth wall in the play and that’s what is most exciting for me."

Revenge saga

An ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, Medea, is centred around a wife's calculated desire for revenge against her unfaithful husband. Medea, a former princess of the barbarian kingdom of Colchis, and the wife of Jason, finds her position in the Greek world threatened, as her husband leaves her for the princess of Corinth. Medea takes revenge by killing Jason's new wife, as well as her own children, after which she escapes to Athens to start a new life. Khan’s rendition stars actress Hazel Keech as the protagonist and her brother, Junaid Khan.

Veteran actor Sarika, along with actor Akshara Hasan, and their production house, Nautankisa Productions, offered to produce Khan’s debut. “I wanted Sarika to play a small and interesting role. So, I asked her but she wanted to produce it. I said sure, that makes my life a lot easier,” recalls Khan.

A self-proclaimed 'control freak', Khan was minutely involved in the creation of the play. “I was very excited while auditions and rehearsals. It was a lot more tiring than I expected. But it was always fun,” she recounts. At first, she was not comfortable with confrontations, but that changed when she reminded herself that her duty as a director required her to take charge. “I just need to mentally prepare myself and think through things before I say anything,” Khan explains.

The director seldom has had free time between assisting directors for ad films and creating short projects with her friends, but she wishes to stage more seasons of Medea, with the hope that the premiere is a successful one.

Medea premieres on December 7 at the Black Box Theatre, G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at ₹500.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:48:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/breaking-the-fourth-wall-in-greek-tragedy/article30192557.ece

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