The Hauz Khas basement where members of Tadpole Repertory rehearse is abuzz. Coat Tales — Glorious Tales of India, their new play, done in tandem with Wide Aisle Productions, is full of songs.
A band giving them company includes flautist Ritesh, son of famous flute exponent Rajendra Prasanna. Momo Ghosh, the play’s narrator, calls it a theatrical expedition that’s bright and ebullient. Written by Chennai-based children’s author Anushka Ravishankar and directed by Australian director Pauline Furlong, the play will open next week.
Furlong, whose husband is on the advisory panel of the Commonwealth Games, says the project took shape when she began touring countries such as Malaysia and Cambodia in 2001, working with local tales and theatre groups. “Classical tales of all countries are similar, stories that kids grow up with.
That’s what I wanted to explore. India is the third country where I’m working with a stage adaptation of folk tales that are essentially traditional.” Earlier this year, one of Furlong’s Indian friends put her in touch with Ravishankar, who then wrote five folks tales for her.
She revisited the Panchatantra, different versions of the celebrated Vikram and Betal, Tamil folk tales, Rajasthan’s nautanki tradition and wove a tale about a man’s coming-of-age journey through his adventures and a magical red coat. There is a feminist angle to the 135-minute play. In one of the segments, Princess Nautanki rescues her love from the villains like a valiant hero.
“She is a modern heroine,” says Furlong. She says she found resonance of Ravishankar’s tales in several international classics. “The brahmrakshas reminds me of Rumpelstiltskin. There’s a connection between Red Riding hood and princess Nautanki, and the animals coming to life are reminiscent of Brothers Grimm tales.”
September 10-11, Epicentre, Sector 44, Gurgaon. For tickets, call 98731-34028