Feisal Alkazi presents The Gathered Leaves, an Indianised version of a British play | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Feisal Alkazi presents The Gathered Leaves, an Indianised version of a British play

In a family that hasn’t met in 17 years, there could be many issues. This play by Andrew Keatley, directed by Delhi-based Feisal Alkazi, shows what happens when these issues come to the fore.

art and culture Updated: Apr 30, 2018 17:12 IST
Henna Rakheja
Actors from different age groups rehearse for Feisal Alkazi’s new play The Gathered Leaves, written by British playwright Andrew Keatley.
Actors from different age groups rehearse for Feisal Alkazi’s new play The Gathered Leaves, written by British playwright Andrew Keatley.

If asked to describe an Indian family, will you be able to draw its parallels with a British family? That’s exactly what theatre director Feisal Alkazi did when he decided to stage Andrew Keatley’s play The Gathered Leaves in Delhi.

It narrates the story of a family that hasn’t been together in a room for 17 years. On the occasion of the 75th birthday of the patriarch, three generations of the family get together. What ensues is a dramatic, comic, poignant, and thought-provoking situation.

“Out of the many scripts I was reading, this one struck me, and I decided to Indianise it. I wouldn’t say I adapted it, because all I had to do was change the characters’ names and some allusions. The story is so contemporary, and the dynamics between generations are not different from what happens in an Indian family. British families are as loud or soft as we are. What you will see on the stage is a ‘true’ Delhi family; the play is set in Sundar Nagar,” says Alkazi.

The play explores a variety of themes, and shows three generations of a family come together.

One of the actors, Ashish Dhameja — who portrays an autistic character — spent time with people who have autism, to prepare for his role. “I spent a week at the NGO Action for Autism (AFA). I realised I shouldn’t caricature when playing an autistic character. Actors often base their understanding on movies or prejudices. I read up on autism, and realised that autistic people can’t socialise or communicate, properly. But, I also learned that they don’t lie or have sarcasm. My understanding of autism before this play was very limited. Unfortunately, that’s the case with a majority of us, which needs to change!”

The director, on the other hand, encountered the challenge to bring actors from different age groups to gel and look like one family on the stage. “The play talks about a family, and in order to make them look like a family, I had to work with actors from different age groups, over 120 hours of rehearsals. The oldest in the cast of 11 actors is 60 and the youngest is 16. In the effort to make them appear as if they have known each other for years, lots of food was eaten. How else could have I got them chatting with each other?” says Alkazi with a short laugh.

The director is open to stage this play even in a house, for free, if there’s a confirmed gathering of 30 people or more.

Catch It Live
  • What: The Gathered Leaves
  • Where: OddBird Theatre
  • When: May 4 to 6
  • Timing: 7.30 pm
  • Nearest Metro Station: Chhattarpur on Yellow Line

Interact with the author at Twitter/@HennaRakheja