India Partition Play to be Streamed Live from London - The New Indian Express

India Partition Play to be Streamed Live from London

Published: 08th January 2014 04:24 PM

Last Updated: 08th January 2014 04:48 PM

A popular play based on the chaos leading up to the Partition of India in 1947 will be streamed live to audiences around the world free on the Internet.

'Drawing the Line', written by Howard Brenton, has been running to packed audiences at Hampstead Theatre in London since its opening on December 3 and plans to deal with some of the demand for tickets with the live stream of its Saturday performance.

"The play has big themes: the end of the British Empire, the birth of India and Pakistan, and the terrible human consequences of the creation of the border between them. Live streaming is a very exciting way of setting up our theatre anywhere on the subcontinent, or in the world, so anyone can see our play," said Brenton.

'Drawing the Line' tells the story of a British judge, Justice Cyril Radcliffe, who was rushed in from England in 1947 despite no knowledge of India or cartography to accomplish the complex task of creating a new border for India within six weeks as the British prepared their exit from  the region.

It is an attempt to capture some of the extremely sensitive issues that led to the eventual bloodshed and rioting of Partition and behind-the-scenes leadership wrangles, captured effectively by an accomplished set of actors including Tom Beard as Radcliffe and Tanveer Ghani as Mahatma Gandhi.

The play takes a fast-paced thriller approach under the direction of Howard Davies, at times implying that one of the reasons Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, rushed the timetable for independence was to take Edwina away from Nehru.

"I wanted to use my playwright's license and imagination to bring that affair to stage. Then there was Gandhi with a steel of man's mind and assumed to be a pacifist, which he was not," said Brenton, who also chooses to portray Jinnah in a 'melancholic' light.

"He has been demonised wrongly I believe. He had this great vision of an Islamic democracy which seemed to be slipping away from him. But it was not for me to take a moral stand on the Partition. I wanted to bring alive the struggle faced by the leaders in keeping control of their own people," the writer added.

The live stream, in association with 'The Guardian' newspaper, can be accessed directly from the theatre website. It will then be available on demand for 72 hours after the performance.

"We hope people all over the world will engage with this fascinating piece of history which has been rarely explored on stage until now," said Hampstead Theatre's artistic director Edward Hall.

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