Ramanujan was quite simply an exceptional human—sharp, funny and absorbed in the parallel universe that was mathematics—but he wasn’t an autistic genius,” insists Simon Mcburney.
The director of A Disappearing Number, a UK-based play on Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, explains his choice of subject: “Mathematics is not an obvious dramatic subject. It was a revelatory moment when a Sri Lankan writer gave me a copy of Mathematician’s Apology by GH Hardy.
I figured that the artistic and mathematical imagination essentially function in the same way.” His theatre company, Complicite, has toured with the play worldwide, earning many accolades.
While it’s based on the collaboration between the Ramanujan and GH Hardy, McBurney insists that the play is really about everyday experiences. “It wasn’t the greatness of the mathematicians that prompted me to direct the play, it’s about dramatising our own lives.
We live in a world where the notion of science is all around us, but we take it for granted.” What fascinates the Olivier Award-winning actor-writer-director is that it’s an Indian tale that touches the hearts of people all over.
The cast, most of whom are Indian, was also chosen because they “simply appeared”. The Indian-origin cast includes Firdous Bamji, Paul Bhattacharjee, Chetna Pandya, Divya Kasturi, and Shane Shambu.