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Guilty as charged?

Theatre group presents Indian adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16th, allows audience members to play jury, pick ending for the play.

art and culture Updated: Jun 04, 2011 15:36 IST
Megha Mahindru

When director Tathagatha Chowdhury decided to adapt Ayn Rand’s celebrated play, The Night of January 16th, he knew Rand’s Objectivists won’t take to it easy. “Localising a play can be challenging. Ayn Rand’s works feature universal content and situations. The American Dream can very well be India Shining. But I’m not sure how well it’ll go down with ardent fans,” he says.

A courtroom thriller about a woman accused of murdering her lover, Chowdhury’s adaptation of this drama shifts base from the play’s original New York setting to Mumbai in recent times.

Best known for her epochal work, The Fountainhead, it was in fact The Night of January 16th that brought Rand, the author-playwright-philosopher to the spotlight, back in 1934. Tonight, the desi production will make place for characters from various communities (Marwari, Bengali, Muslims) and even feature a song-and-dance sequence as part of the subplot.

“The issues Rand talks about are contemporary. It’s something that we can relate to at all times. It’s a rags-to-riches story that involves thought and action that actually questions ethics — whether to achieve what one aspires for is acceptable or not,” feels Chowdhury, who previously brought Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap in 2009 to stage with his theatre group, Theatrecian.

Like the original play and its first Broadway shows that were produced in 1935, this time too the audience will double as jury. “We will have 12 members from the audience decide the ending to the play. Going by the spirit of Ayn Rand and how convincing she is, there is an anticipated ending that even the audience will want, but we are prepared for the result— guilty or not guilty,” he adds.

Watch The Night of January 16th tonight atSophia Bhabha Hall, Breach Candy, 7.30 pm.
Tickets priced at Rs 300, Rs 500, Rs 700, Rs 900,
Available atbookmyshow.com